The New Normal for Worship

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in June relaxed the total lockdown on large gathering, while the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC ), the major agency responsible for disease control in the country went further to release guidelines to ensure the safety of the people and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Oluwafemi Stephen engaged on a short term project, documenting the “new normal” in his place of worship. He highlighted the new sitting arrangement, the health precaution now embraced by the church, and the new protocol during worship. Oluwafemi observed that the house of worship which is supposed to be a place where we are free to dance in the presence of God like David in the Bible did, where we can shake hands, hug one another in love, etc. has now been restrained to observing physical distance.

He saw that our present reality has taken away, in one form or the other, our freedom of worship in the presence of our God.

Some of the rules put in place by NCDC include:

  • There should be no entry without facemasks. All attendees and religious leaders must wear a face mask.
  • People who are sick should not go to places of worship. There should be temperature screening on entry.
  • Hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers should be provided at the point of entries and strategic points.
  • Attendance at religious settings should not exceed 1/3 of sitting capacity.
  • Religious centers should be clearly marked such that people sit and maintain two meters distance from each other.
  • There should be no form of direct contact. Practices such as handshakes as peace signs are discouraged.
  • Practices that require the sharing of materials should be limited. For example, ablution should be performed at home.
  • Religious centers should be disinfected routinely, before and after worship

We are now faced with a new way of worship, falling into a pattern albeit, a new normal.

Oluwafemi Wahabi Stephen is a freelance photographer based in Abuja, Nigeria, with a particular interest in documentary and commercial photography. He has had his works published in The Guardian UK Newspaper, WorldPress Photo, and The Edge of Humanity Magazine. He is one of the Roving Photojournalists for the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (TRANSCORP). He is a member of APJD ( African Photojournalism Database), A joint project by the  World Press Photo Foundation and Everyday Africa.

You can find some of his works on his Instagram and contact him via email: