Church services cancelled due to State of Emergency
A total of 160 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned wards and branches in Upolu and Savai'i have cancelled all worship services and other gatherings until the state of emergency passes.
The announcement follows the Government issuing orders that banned public gatherings, through the State of Emergency Declaration which was made by the Acting Prime Minister and Health Minister, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers-Ah Kau on Friday night.
The orders include compulsory vaccinations of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and children under 17 years of age being banned from attending public gatherings.
According to an official response by the Church headquarters in Samoa, their move to close church services is to follow the lead taken by the Government.
“We continue to pray to our Father in Heaven that He will comfort those who are mourning the loss of loved ones and all who are afflicted with illness,” stated the church’s official statements.
The statements also added that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are invited to observe the Sabbath at home.
“And to pray and study the gospel in their homes. We are grateful for and pray for all who are serving our nation and those in need of special care at this challenging time."
However, it was business as usual for other church denominations such as the Catholic Church, Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.), Methodist Church, and Seventh-day Adventist Church who held their Sunday worship.
As Samoa faces a measles crisis, the National Council of Churches (NCC) has appealed to members of the public to be alert through prayers.
This was highlighted by the Secretary of the Council, Reverend Mauga Motu in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
“My own perspective as a Reverend, which is also shared by the Chairman of the National Council of Churches, Deacon Leaupepe Kasiano Leaupepe, our people should be more alert by praying endlessly,” he said.
The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) has urged members of the public to avoid public gatherings as a preventative measure to control the spread of measles.
Rev. Motu was asked on his views about members of the public attending church as an example of public gatherings which the health system has advised to avoid; he said that church is significant.
“Church gatherings are for a short period of the day, maybe around an hour or so on Sundays.
“It is very significant that we attend church and return the thanksgiving to the Lord for everything He has done for us all.
“Attending church is the only chance we gather with families as a church congregation, a village and most importantly as a nation united under God.”
He also said that the people of Samoa should not only seek God when faced with tribulations.
“In Samoa, the highest contributing factor for lives lost is alcohol related incidents and then second would be diseases.
“Prayer is very powerful because my son was saved through prayer. My son was hit by a car which caused minimal injuries to his head and hand the most important thing is that we are so grateful to God that he is alive and that his life was not lost in this incident.
“I told my son to be alert and to pray constantly, not only during times of need like exams periods. My family have days dedicated for prayers and fasting for God’s protection, guidance and blessings upon our family.”
Rev. Motu also added that parents need to be more alert with looking after their children.
“It is because there are cases where some parents only worry about the children when they are in critical condition but early admission can actually save lives.
“Sadly some parents blame the doctors and nurses when they should have admitted their children early for treatment.
“The doctors and nurses are doing their best to serve our people, the work they do is not easy and we should acknowledge their efforts.”
The banning of graduations and prize giving within schools was a smart move, he added.
“The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) and M.O.H. working together to make this ban happen is for the welfare of the children of Samoa, it is a way to prioritizing the lives of our children to save them from being at risk of being infected with measles.
“Our country has entered into the cyclone season period; we must pray without ceasing that God will protect our small islands so no harm shall befall us.
“We also remember in our prayers the families who have lost loved ones especially children to the measles.”
He also added that sometimes, there can be so many contributing factors that allow our people to be distant from God; the most important thing to remember is that “nothing is impossible with God.”