Guam Gov Names Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) “Covid Hero”
Recognized as Proactive Partner Against Pandemic
APRIL 17, 2020 (Hagåtña,Guam) — The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC or Church Of Christ) has been recognized by the Governor of the U.S. territory of Guam in Micronesia for the response of the religious organization to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero’s daily Covid-19 press briefing on April 17, she announced the INC to be a Covid Hero:
“For today’s COVID Hero, I want to acknowledge the Iglesia Ni Cristo church. Earlier this month, after contact tracing, Public Health officials identified and named Iglesia Ni Cristo church for a cluster among its faithful. Despite being identified as a cluster site for the virus, Iglesia Ni Cristo Church stepped up and worked in tandem with Public Health to identify close contacts, get them tested, and contain the spread. The Iglesia Ni Cristo continues to adhere to social distancing guidelines by migrating services online and distributing educational materials to keep them home for now until we can return to places of worship.”
Since news of the pandemic first broke out and regulations set by the government, the Church Of Christ has complied immediately and cooperated with all government actions.
Before stay-at-home orders were implemented, the government set limits to worship gatherings at no more than 50 persons. The Church set more times to make sure that none of their gatherings would exceed 49. Temperature scanners, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves were used to ensure the public health and safety of all worshippers.
Upon receiving the government’s directive that there would be no public gatherings as of March 20, 2020 12:00 p.m., the Church Of Christ in Guam and its surrounding congregations conducted its last in-person worship service on March 19.
“We can assure the public that the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) is always one with whatever is implemented by the government,” said Noel S. Gasmen, Iglesia Ni Cristo District Minister of Micronesia, which includes local congregations across Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Mariana Islands, and Marshall Islands.
“When the government made the decision or made an announcement that there should be no more gatherings, immediately we mobilized our officers in the Church to inform the brethren that we need to follow,” said Noel Gasmen.
From that point, all offices of the Church in Guam were closed and all worship services have been conducted via online video conferencing technology to ensure compliance with the government’s instructions, as well as to provide the opportunity for the faithful to continue to serve God during this unprecedented time. The physical distancing requirements are also maintained by even the volunteer security staff who secure the INC’s properties on the island.
Upon hearing that some of its members had become infected by the novel coronavirus, the Church Of Christ instructed all its members to give the information the government needed for contact tracing to prevent its spread.
This response has been consistent across the nations of the Pacific islands. After the recent discovery of Covid-19 positive cases among Church members, Northern Mariana Islands’ Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation CEO Esther L. Muna in Saipan stated in a report with KUAM:
“We had a mass investigation. Rather than us going village to village, they [the Iglesia Ni Cristo] actually did comply and came forward. They were really very cooperative. I want to applaud the group for coming forward, saying ‘let’s address this so we can prevent further transmission in the community’”. Hundreds of INC members voluntarily entered the contact trace investigation to assist the community in Saipan in stopping the virus spread.
It is not only during the present pandemic that Church Of Christ members around the world are taught to obey government laws and regulations. All around the world, the worship services of the Church Of Christ members are now being conducted in the homes of the members and online. The fast dissemination of safety precautions from the Church Administration, led by Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo and in line with government regulations in all affected nations, have been done through the Church’s officers completely online. Members of the Church Of Christ are constantly instructed to follow the direction of the government in getting immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms to further contain the spread of the pandemic.
The Church Of Christ remains cooperative with the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services as well as the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation regarding any information they require to ensure the health of its members and all citizens.
It is the constant prayer of every member of the Church Of Christ that communities around the world soon see an end to the deadly Covid-19, and look forward to one day returning to its thousands of houses of worship around the world to continue services to God.
For more about the Church and its activities, please visit www.iglesianicristo.net.
Photos Courtesy of Iglesia Ni Cristo Public Information Office