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By Isaac Wandubile

For the first time in more than 7 months, Pastor Aloysius Bugingo today Monday 26th October returned to the pulpit at his Makerere Kikoni-based Canaan Land where hundreds of his followers converged to witness the reopening of their church. Bugingo’s crowd is largely dominated by youths and women and the Monday lunch hour fellowship wasn’t exceptional as that exactly is what happened.

Bugingo delivers his sermon in which he thanked God for sparing Uganda not to have massive COVID19 deaths.

Saying they had missed their church for too long, the worshipers cheerfully participated in all the praise and worship and an equally energetic Bugingo led them for several hours. There was more than enough compliance with the GoU restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID19. Everyone was disinfected by a large team of ushers positioned at all entrances to Canaan. After having their temperature measured and their hands washed with sanitizer, the hundreds of worshipers were guided to find where to sit on the well-spaced plastic chairs that were spread out on the 8 acre piece of land.

Bugingo delivers his message.

The SoPs require apartness of 2 meters but Bugingo says because his place is spacious, he is ready to offer up to 4 meters to ensure there is adequate physical distancing between worshipers. The flamboyant pastor, evidently buoyed by the huge turn up on the first day of reopening, subsequently told Mulengera News there was nothing unique with so many worshipers converging to safely worship their God.

“Yes its expensive to keep doing this every day but it’s a cost we are prepared to pay to ensure compliance with the government’s safety procedures and more importantly to ensure everybody coming to worship is able to safely do so,” said Bugingo who some members of the Kawempe COVID19 taskforce say has exceeded what was required of him to ensure safety. “As we speak right now there are other places of worship where hundreds have continued to congregate without adequate compliance with the SoPs but for us we have exceedingly complied in a very verifiable way because we must compliment the efforts of government and our President to ensure safety of everyone. Go and see the mosques; the large numbers being gathered there without any effort to ensure safety. It’s actually what even some churches have been doing but in our case we are different and ready to keep doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

Ushers only let you in after adequately washing your hands.

He explained that some of his fellow pastors rushed to reopen without being prepared to comply with the SoPs and have clandestinely been congregating very large numbers “and all they do is to ensure the camera person focusses only on the pastor without showing the congregation and such people forget that the state already has its agents in that very congregation to monitor and report back on compliance.” Last Thursday, members of the area COVID taskforce inspected Canaan Land and commended the HPMI leadership for being so compliant. In fact, during the press conference at Canaan Land after the inspection tour some of the taskforce members wondered why the charismatic preacher from Masaka took so long to reopen (see related reporting here

A lady worships her God.

A well-masked woman at Canaan.

A woman participates in the Monday lunch hour service.

Their temperature had to be measured first.

Allowing to be sanitized and disinfected.

Edward Kayizi (M) & other HPMI pastors.

He got tired of mask and put it down abit to let in fresh air.

I have been waiting for this day for too long.

I must get my dream job before Xmas.

Many of them didn’t mind rolling themselves in the mud.

These two ladies came together and were inseparable.

They insisted on resuming this very place where they used to worship from Canaan was closed down.

The physical distance was simply adequate.

They vowed to come everyday.

This elderly lady was also there.

This gentleman was very deliberate in his prayer request.

This journalist combined both prayer and work.

This young man prayed and got tired.

This is how it went down for them.

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