COVID-19: Redefining the order of worship

When in March cities in Nigeria joined the rest of the world in enforcing the #StayAtHome order, the reality of the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic hit home.

Although a necessary action, many didn’t envisage how much their routines would greatly change until they could no longer gather for events and activities, especially religious activities. Church gatherings had no option than to move online, a move which was previously considered not spiritual enough. Still, many desired more Christian programming especially from their local assemblies of worship during this unprecedented time.
It was, therefore, a foot in the right direction for video entertainment company, MultiChoice, when it announced the launch of a special channel for customers on its DStv and GOtv platforms early April. The channel aptly tagged ‘Hallelujah’ was designed to give church goers an immersive ‘church at home’ experience featuring praise and worship sessions, sermons, choir ministrations, prayers and other wholesome family programming from well-known churches in Nigeria.
Perhaps one of the unique selling points of this channel is that it gave these churches the opportunity to broadcast into the homes of millions of Nigerians its most recent ministrations and in some cases, live sermons such as was seen with the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Adewale Martins’ sermon during the celebration of Divine Mercy Mass at the Holy Cross Cathedral. This is a win-win for all parties involved. A roll call of the churches currently being broadcast for free include RCCG City of David, Daystar Christian Centre, House on the Rock, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), Harvesters International Christian Centre (HICC), The Elevation Church, Diplomats’ Assembly, Kornerstone, Salvation Ministries and more.
Comments from users of popular social media sites such as Twitter indicate that the channel creation was well received with some even requesting when their local assembly will be added to the line-up. Consequently, the number of churches broadcasting has increased over the past weeks; Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, David Christian Centre and House of Grace are among the ministries recently scheduled on the channel.
The Chief Customer Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr Martin Mabutho in a statement said the company was staying in tune with its customers’ new realities following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to the expansion of its religious content programming to cater to the different denominational groups and keep customers connected to their faith during these challenging times. The Hallelujah channel (DStv 198 and GOtv 29) comes at no extra access fee and is available on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Confam, Family, Yanga and Access as well as on GOtv Max, Jolli and Plus packages.
The worldwide march to end the pandemic may still be a long way to go. The World Health Organization continues to work to provide the critical strategies, solutions and supplies that countries will need in the coming weeks and months. For Nigerians, President Buhari approved a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states effective Monday, May 4 and a national curfew from 8pm to 6 am. He also stated that there will be no social and religious gatherings and a “mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.”
As Nigerians continue to grapple with the uncertainties of these times and adjust to new ways of living, one thing is certain – the auditoriums of Nigeria’s churches and mega churches will remain closed. In the meantime, the Hallelujah channel on DStv and GOtv will continue to provide the much-needed succour to Christians across the country, giving them an immersive ‘church at home’ experience.

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