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Anglicans told to hold each other in prayer

27 March 2020

Pandemic round-up: Welby’s audience; prayers with Pope


Pathway Baptist Church in Calvert City, Kentucky, used its local drive-in theatre last Sunday to worship together safely

Pathway Baptist Church in Calvert City, Kentucky, used its local drive-in theatre last Sunday to worship together safely

ANGLICANS worldwide have been urged to continue in worship privately during the pandemic, and in prayer for one another, using the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, in a joint message from the Archbishops of Canterbury and Hong Kong, and the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Joshua Idowu-Fearon.

The Archbishop of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Paul Kwong, chairs the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

Having significant restrictions on life would be a new experience for many, but “the suspension of public corporate acts of worship does not mean that we stop worshipping God,” the message says.

Besides praying for strength for medical workers and for wisdom those in authority, Anglicans should heed the advice of the authorities seeking to contain the virus, and should “care for those who are unable to care for themselves”.

PAThe Prince of Wales who, on Wednesday, was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19

On Monday evening, the Prime Minister announced further restrictions on movement, and the closure of churches and other places where people gather. In a brief statement, the Church of England’s archbishops and bishops immediately urged people to obey government instructions about staying at home. They wrote: “Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.”

Archbishop Welby also thanked school leaders and teachers for “caring for students in ways that are truly inspiring” by continuing to provide education to vulnerable children in schools, and delivering resources, including food vouchers, to children at home.

He also backed a call from Pope Francis for Christians around the world to pray the Lord’s Prayer at noon, Rome time (11 a.m. GMT), on Wednesday, for the feast of the Annunciation. The Pope said: “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tried.”

The Church of England is encouraging worshippers to post a photo or video of themselves praying, using the hashtag #PrayTogether.

On Monday, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York asked for a clause to be added to the Coronavirus Bill allowing the Queen to grant them permission to postpone elections to the General Synod.

The service recorded by the Archbishop of Canterbury last week and broadcast on online and on 39 BBC local stations reached an estimated audience of five million, Lambeth Palace calculates. One million followed the stream on Facebook; two million more listened to the radio station broadcasts, and the Facebook post reached two million more.

Real Easter EggsThe Trussell Trust project manager, David McDonald, with Real Easter Eggs. More than 3000 have been donated to foodbanks through an online scheme

Last Friday, a joint letter was sent to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, called for vulnerable families to be protected during the outbreak of Covid-19. It acknowledged the Government’s willingness to engage with the financial insecurity faced by businesses, but urged them to offer the same level of financial support and commitment to families in crisis.

It came from the Children’s Society; the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler; the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek; the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster; Buttle UK, the Child Poverty Action Group, Poverty Alliance, and Turn2Us.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation called on the Government to prioritise help for those on low incomes. Those trapped in poverty were more likely to be in insecure employment, have fewer rights, be caring for dependent family members, and be experiencing anxiety and other mental-health issues, the charity said. The effects of Covid-19 were, therefore, likely to force them into greater hardship. It was “vital that the Government and other organisations in the UK take all possible action to reduce both financial pressure and increased anxiety”.

The Church Urban Fund is using its networks — the Together Network, Near Neighbours, and the Just Finance Foundation — to encourage support for the isolated and vulnerable, and offering resources through its website cuf.org.uk. It gives the example of All Saints’, Canterbury, and “care groups” that the PCC there has organised.

Clarence House announced on Wednesday morning that the Prince of Wales, who is 71, had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was showing mild symptoms, but was reported to be in “good health” otherwise. He and the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, who has also been tested but does not have the virus, are in self-isolation at Balmoral.

DIOCESE OF PORTSMOUTHClergy at St Mary’s, Fratton, prepare to hand out flowers after live-streaming their Mothering Sunday service

On Monday, the Priest-in-Charge of St John the Baptist, Claines, and of St George with St Mary Magdalene, Worcester, the Revd Jo Musson, posted on Twitter that she had tested positive for the coronavirus: “Good job I self isolated.” She urged others to “Please be aware and self isolate.”

The Association of English Cathedrals has said that the cathedrals will maintain their pattern of daily prayer, despite the closure of the buildings, which will still be “at the heart of local initiatives to serve and meet need. They stand, as they always have done, as silent, but permanent signs of God’s presence alongside us.”

All Methodist churches have closed, too, it was announced. Some will still offer social outreach programmes, including foodbanks, soup kitchens, and night shelters, so far as government guidelines allow.

On Sunday, the Board of Deputies of British Jews called for the Government to “respect religious traditions” on cremation and burial. This came amid concerns that local authorities would be given the power to cremate bodies even if this went against the wishes of the dead person and their family.

The Muslim MP Naz Shah expressed her relief on Twitter when an amendment was brought forward addressing these concerns: “I don’t need to push my amendment to a vote. Thank you so much to everyone for your support!”, she wrote.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland , the Rt Revd Colin Sinclair, said: “We need to practise faith, hope, and love, and not just recite them as a creed.” He praised Christians who were offering practical and emotional support in their communities.

On Tuesday, the Suffragan Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, praised the efforts of parish churches in the Vale of York. He said that, despite the closure of churches, “virtual services are being streamed, pastoral care for the isolated and vulnerable goes on through phone calls and social media, foodbanks continue to be supported, and partnership with other community groups and local authorities is happening.”

Christ Church, PenningtonThe Revd Alan Saunders plays a hymn on his church tower in Pennington, inspired by an Italian who played the national anthem on his balcony

On Wednesday of last week, the World Council of Churches issued a letter urging its member Churches to protect human life, and to “observe strictly the measures, restrictions and advice given by health authorities that are guided by all available and reliable scientific knowledge provided through the World Health Organization”.

The Priest-in-Charge of St Margaret’s, Leytonstone, in east London, Canon Neil-Allan Walsh, has started using his pop-up shop, which he has been running since 2016, to supply food for people in the borough of Waltham Forest. While people are asked to practise social distancing, he said, the church continues to help those in need in their community.

The Meaningful Chocolate Company has announced that it is no longer selling its Easter eggs. Through its online scheme, “Donate an egg to a foodbank”, however, 3000 eggs have been donated to foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust. This service continues.

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