SAFF puts onus on govt to reopen places of worship

SHILLONG: The Shillong All Faith Association (SAFF) has put the onus of reopening places of worship in the state on the government which is yet to come to a decision on the matter.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, on Wednesday, said, “We are yet to decide on reopening of worship places as we have to gather suggestions and views on the protocols without which places of worship cannot be reopened”.
He advised leaders of religious organisation not to bypass the decision of the government and to act responsibly to avoid might get infected.
Earlier in the day, speaking to reporters after meeting Chief Secretary, MS Rao on Wednesday, Bishop P. Lyngdoh clarified that the association had never put pressure on the government to reopen places of worship in the state.
“It is not our prerogative to open up the churches but the prerogative of the government. Whenever the government decides to reopen the places of worship, it will be done in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs),” Lyngdoh said.
The SAFF leaders met the chief secretary on Wednesday for re-examination and subsequent finalisation of the SOPs.
“The recommendations that we made from our side have been taken and amalgamated with the SOPs of the government,” the Bishop said.
For its part, the association has made some suggestions based on the SOPs of the government.
For example, the SAFF leaders felt that the number of attendees in any place of worship needed to cover one-third of the space available and not 100 attendees, as per the previous SOPs.
The leaders also felt that services could also be held in the church compound since there are compounds attached to the church building.
So instead of having a service inside the church, services could be held outside also, though not simultaneously but at different times of the day, they believed.
Referring to the government SOPs which stated that names would have to be submitted in advance for special ceremonies like baptism, Lyngdoh said that the procedure would not be convenient.
But he said the church would maintain a record and, as and when required, it would provide information to the state government.
With the festive season approaching, it is learnt that the respective deputy commissioners would take a call on holding of Durga Puja, All Souls Day and Christmas.

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