CHURCH LEADERS in financial districts in London and New York have offered support and prayer to employees affected by Monday’s “meltdown” in the financial sector, after the collapse of the American investment bank Lehman Brothers, and the hurried rescue of Merrill Lynch and AIG.
Lehman, which employed 25,000 staff across the globe, filed for bankruptcy, after rescue plans by the Bank of America and Barclays failed to materialise on Sunday.
About 5000 staff at the bank’s London office in Canary Wharf face an uncertain future, as the 158-year-old bank became the latest victim of the worldwide credit crunch.
The Revd Marcus Nodder is Senior Pastor at St Peter’s Barge in Canary Wharf, a floating church that holds three weekly services for office workers in the financial district. He said on Tuesday that he knew of some members of the congregation who have been affected.
He described the week’s events as “a dramatic reminder” of the transient nature of “the things of this world, and of the need to live for the world to come. “Psalm 46 begins ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. . .’
“This week with the collapse of Lehman, a very old and large mountain has fallen into the sea.
“Our prayer is that the experience of the psalmist would be shared by God’s people in Lehman today as they face an uncertain future.”
The Revd Fiona Stewart-Darling, Chaplain in Docklands since 2004, said “everybody was in shock” after the demise of the bank. She had made herself available to meet any employees who had been affected by the collapse. “It’s a big shock, even though the financial sector has been in a state of flux for a while now.
“It’s not just those working at Lehman Brothers, but employees in all sorts of jobs who are being affected by the economic downturn. People may be embarrassed to come to church if they have lost their jobs, especially in some of the affluent, commuter-belt areas, and it’s the Church’s job to be there for these people.”
In New York, Canon Anne Mallonee, Vicar of Trinity, Wall Street, said that there had been a “solemn” atmosphere in the city this week, and some members of the congregation had lost their jobs.
“Of course people are concerned and wondering what will happen next. Some have lost their jobs, and for others there is a sense of foreboding. But we are able to have our doors open every day for anyone to come in and pray and reflect. We have daily services, and attendances have been high this week.”
They also are hosting career workshops for those who have lost their jobs and are struggling with the psychological impact. “We know people are hurting, and as a church we’re equipping the saints to reflect the love of God for the people of God.”