Original Research

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on religious practices of churches in Nigeria

Onyekachi G. Chukwuma
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6377 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6377 | © 2021 Onyekachi G. Chukwuma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 October 2020 | Published: 17 June 2021

About the author(s)

Onyekachi G. Chukwuma, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the churches in Nigeria contended with Bokoharam insurgency which mainly affected the churches in Northern Nigeria. However, COVID-19 affected various churches in all the nooks and crannies of the country. It brought about obvious changes in numerous practices of churches in Nigeria. Long-standing traditions of churches such as solemnisation of Holy Matrimony, Holy Communion, baptism, prayer and sharing of peace (This practice is commonly observed by the orthodox churches and entails shaking one another’s hands in the course of a communion service) have been modified or suspended. Whilst this article appreciates the efforts of the federal and state governments, it investigates the implications of COVID-19 outbreak on traditional religious practices of churches in Nigeria. It also examines the responses of churches towards controlling the pandemic. The phenomenological method is used to analyse the data collected from both primary (semi-structured interview) and secondary sources (journals and internet materials). Findings from this work indicate that COVID-19 outbreak is a challenge to the purpose of the institution ‘church’.

Contribution: The article investigated and examined the changes which churches made in their doctrine and liturgy with respect to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria. It discovered that many traditions of the church have been modified or suspended as a way of curtailing the spread of the virus.


Keywords

implication; COVID-19; religious practices; church in Nigeria; church practices

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