Cross-over services all over the world are major events that will mark the beginning of the New Year. Cross-over services usually take place in churches on the night of 31 December every year, and Christians usually gather to pray and worship their Maker for the gift of the New Year. As a custom, the services begin a few hours before 12 a.m. and end a few minutes after 12 a.m.
But, given the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted livelihoods and ways of doing things, cross-over services for 2020 will be different in many ways, as global health authorities discourage large gatherings from stemming the spread of the virus.
In Nigeria, state governments such as Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Cross River, among others, warned churches against cross-over services this Friday, insisting that the 12am to 4am curfew imposed on COVID-19 by the Presidential Task Force persists. The PTF also stressed the need to maintain social distance, use face masks and hand sanitizers as Nigeria fights the second wave of the virus.
Following these directives, leading Christian leaders in the country have adjusted their cross-over services with many opting for the virtual experience.
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Monday, said the church’s cross-over service would start by 6pm.
In a Facebook post on his verified page, the 78-year-old cleric wrote, “God has been so good to us. He has kept us despite the many hurdles of this year. It is time to crossover gallantly into 2021. Be a part of the crossover service and be empowered for the year 2021.”
The post was accompanied by a flyer with a starting time of 6 p.m.
A high official of the church who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “There is no physical cross-over service; we’re connecting with Daddy (Adeboye) virtually.”
In a video clip posted on its official social media platforms, the Mountain of Fire and Miraculous Ministries led by Dr. Daniel Olukoya said that the church’s cross-over service would take place physically between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., while it would virtually continue into the New Year..
A circular dated December 29, 2020, and signed by Pastor Gbesan Adebambo, the Assistant General Overseer in charge of Administration of the church, partly read, “The leadership of this ministry has directed that, in view of the government safety and health regulations, coupled with the imposed curfew between 12am and 4am, the cross-over night service on the 31st of December, 2020, would now hold from 9pm to 11pm on Thursday.”
Also, the Living Faith Church Worldwide aka Winners’ Chapel led by Bishop David Oyedepo said the church’s cross-over service would take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
That was revealed by a member of the church who wanted anonymity. “My pastor announced it on Sunday, and he said it was an instruction from CanaanLand,” said the member.
The Lagos-based church, Covenant Christian Centre, said the church’s crossover service would take place physically between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The senior pastor of the church, Poju Oyemade, stated this in a broadcast on Tuesday, adding that a second service would be held virtually and would be televised between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
In addition, the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, led by Pastor William Kumuyi, would hold a cross-over service from 10 p.m.
“We are having it based on district and location basis. We are not going to have large gatherings like the previous years. We are starting by 10pm,” said an official of the church who said he was not permitted to speak on the matter.
The Lagos-based church, the Daystar Christian Center led by Pastor Sam Adeyemi, also announced that the church’s cross-over service would be strictly online between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Thursday.
The PTF said that the religious leaders are sabotaging their response to the Covid administration in Nigeria by holding large gatherings.
Since then, however, the Christian Association of Nigeria has urged its members to comply with government directives at the federal and sub-national levels.
With cross-over services approaching, many state governments are expected to deploy enforcement teams to religious centres to insure compliance with the protocols outlined by the authorities.
Nigeria reported more than 85,000 Covid infections, including more than 1,200 deaths, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.