Thousands of worshippers thronged the Living Faith Church in Ogun State on Sunday in defiance of government’s directive banning gatherings in excess of 50 in the state.
A remorseful Oyedepo, after social media bashing, has apologised for his action.
The apology letter issued by Pastor Steve Ogah, Special Assistant to Bishop David Oyedepo, read:
“Coronavirus: Compliance with Government Order – Matters Arising*
“It has become necessary to issue this statement to clarify issues surrounding why Faith Tabernacle, the International Headquarters of Living Faith Church, Ota, in Ogun State, held its regular church service today, although with less than half of her regular worshippers.
“There has been diverse responses varying from well-meaning concerns to uncharitable insinuations, misinterpretations, and unfounded allegations that the service was held in deliberate defiance of Ogun State Government ban on high-density gatherings, in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“For avoidance of doubt, as stakeholders and as a responsible organisation, Living Faith Church fully supports and encourages compliance with all initiatives of government to combat the spread of this dreaded virus. However, information has to be strategically disseminated to the grassroot, noting that the Church is a family and not an industry, it is for this reason that enlightenment and sensitization from the Church platform is a most effective way to get people involved in playing their part in terms of prayers and intercessions and not just staying away from Church without knowing what to do.
“Invariably, a press release from the office of the CAN President, through his Special Assistant on media on Saturday March 21, 2020, expressed the same position that members who may gather in church premises, many of whom may not be aware of this regulations should be allowed to worship for the purpose of enlightenment on the subject matter.
“As we all know, the Church is made up of both literate and illiterate congregants; many are not in touch with any of the modern platforms of communication and this is what we did yesterday. Indeed, the service was devoted entirely to sensitizing and mobilizing members of the Church regarding the danger of this deadly virus and the need to comply with government directives.
“The Bishop has since engaged Ogun State Government at the highest level to clarify this issue and any misgivings and reiterated the full support of the church for the State Government’s efforts to ensure public safety, towards curtailing the spread of this deadly virus. He appreciates the opportunity of direct engagement and the understanding of the government. Cooperation to safeguard public safety is not just a moral obligation or civic responsibility; the church also considers it a spiritual duty.
“For instance, to show how law abiding our organisation is and in compliance with government directives, all our primary and secondary schools across the nation have been directed to close down. Also, our students at Landmark University, Omuaran, Kwara state were sent back home, while Covenant University Students, who are currently on vacation were instructed to stay back at home while awaiting further directives from government.
“As a responsible and law abiding organisation we wish to state that we will ensure compliance with the government directives in all our churches across the state .
“The Church shall continue to engage all necessary logistics to ensure compliance with government directives and continue to pray for speedy divine intervention to stem this deadly virus.”