NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe have jointly appointed an Inter-Religious Council chaired by Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria to review re-opening of churches.
Under the appointment made on Friday, Archbishop Muheria was mandated to guide the council on development of stringent protocols for a phased re-opening of places of worship in guidelines expected to allow a more participatory mode of worship under the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pursuant to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive for the development of protocols that will guide the re-opening of places of worship for in-person congregational gatherings, CS Mutahi Kagwe and I have jointly appointed The Inter Faith Council that will guide this process,” stated CS Matiangi.
Members of the Inter-Religious Faith Council include Bishop John Obala (KCCB), Bishop Joseph Obanyi, Rev. Moderator Julius Mwamba (PCEA), Canon Chris Kamau Kinyanjui (NCCK), Canon Rosemary Mbogo (ACK), Samuel Makori and Al Hajj Hassan Ole Naado (SUPKEM).
Others Sheikh Sukyan Hassan Omar (SUPKEM), Sheikh Abdulatif Abdulkarim (KCIU), Rev. Joseph Mutie (OAIC), Bishop David Onginde (CITAM), Rev. Connie Kivuti, Sujata Kotamraju (Hindu Council of Kenya), Retired Rev. Samuel Thiong’o Mwangi (General Conference of Akorino Churches Assembly) and Sheikh Ali Said Samojah.
Doctor Kepha Ombacho (Director of Special Programmes MoH), Francis Kuria (Inter-Religious Council of Kenya) and Paul Famba (Director of Administration Interior Ministry) will serve as joint secretaries.
The team has also been tasked to come up with protocols for the celebration of weddings and other religious ceremonies in the places of worship under social distancing guidelines.
They will file a report to President Kenyatta, through the National and County Government’s coordinating summit.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had on June 1 directed the ministries of interior and health to hasten talks with religious leaders on how best places of worship can be re-opened amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The two Cabinet Secretaries mandated to come up with protocols that will be adopted to guide gatherings in churches, temples and mosques, to ensure worship services resume without exposing congregations to COVID-19.
Places of worship including churches and mosques were shut to prevent the spread of the virus with some religious institutions resorting to transmitting their services via online platforms and television stations.
President Kenyatta is expected to update Kenyans on the easing of the coronavius containment measures on July 6.
Among measures anticipated to be eased include re-opening of places of worship and calibrated re-opening of the economy.
The government is also planing to gradually reopen schools by September, President Kenyatta having directed the education ministry to come up with a reviewed school calendar by mid-August.