THE Church of England is considering parish services of remembrance and mourning for those who have died from Covid-19, and possibly a national act of worship once the crisis is over.
The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, whose installation as Archbishop of York next month will now take place online (News, 22 May), said: “Once we find ourselves at a place where the horrors of the pandemic are more likely to be behind us than in front of us, the Church of England does indeed plan to hold a number of services of mourning and remembrance for those who have died and in thanksgiving for all those who have cared for them.”
A possible date is All Souls’ Day, in November. No planning for a national service has yet begun, but Bishop Cottrell said: “It is likely this may happen.”
A minute’s silence for key workers who had died was held on 28 April, and an online book of remembrance set up by St Paul’s Cathedral last month gathered 3147 names in the first week (News, 22 May).
A requiem is held every Wednesday in Norwich Cathedral, and candles are lit for people who have died. Peterborough Cathedral is offering a virtual Light a Candle on its website; prayer requests accompanying the candle will be used during the daily Zoom services.
Hymns sung by the choral scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London, have been downloaded 30,000 times in the past month for use in online services. The ten singers record independently at home for posting every Thursday evening. The hymns can be found through the website A Church Near You Resource Hub.
The York Mystery Plays, traditionally performed from carts drawn to different locations through the city, have been turned into a series of radio broadcasts. Actors worked remotely at home to record four 15-minute instalments: Adam And Eve, The Flood Part 1, The Flood Part 2, and Moses and Pharaoh. They can be heard on Radio York’s Breakfast Show on Sundays, starting this weekend. They will also be available though BBC Sounds.
The director, Juliet Forster, who is the artistic director at York Theatre Royal, said: “The ones that make for the most fun are the ones around Noah’s flood, but they are also about a family in isolation for 40 days, maybe falling out with each other; so there are parallels with what’s happening now.”
More than 300 members of the Association of Christian Counsellors are offering free online or phone support for frontline workers and the bereaved. Sue Monckton-Rickett, who chairs the association, said that it was a response to the “evident distress” arising from the epidemic. “The service is for people of all faiths and none, and the volunteer counsellors represent people of all faith backgrounds and none. Early indicators suggest that this service is not only wanted but also desperately needed.”
More information can be obtained on the association’s website, www.acc-uk.org, or by phoning 024 7644 9694.
On Wednesday, the Trussell Trust reported an 89-per-cent increase in need for emergency food parcels during April, compared with the same month last year. The number of families with children who received parcels almost doubled, to 107 per cent. The Trust is part of a coalition of UK charities calling on the Government to introduce a temporary coronavirus emergency income-support scheme for struggling families.
Similarly, demand for food support at the Salvation Army’s ten busiest centres has jumped by 174 per cent. To meet the need, the Army has launched an appeal to fund about 22,000 basic food parcels. Its UK and Ireland Territorial Commissioner, Anthony Cotterill, said: “It’s years since we have seen poverty to be such a real and present danger for so many people. We are worried that the communities we work in will be reeling from the economic fallout for many years. We are approaching a poverty tipping-point.”
In the South Wales valleys, parishes have turned to several charities for grants to fund food support. The Priest-in-Charge of Treharris, Trelewis, Bedlinog and Llanfabon, the Revd Gareth Coombes, has secured £47,000. He said: “I spent most of lockdown researching several funding grants and exploring how we could do things differently. I applied for grants and they all came in. It was like winning the lottery.”
The Priest-in-Charge of Penrhiwceiber, Matthewstown and Ynysboeth, the Revd Ben Rabjohns, obtained £29,000 to provide a weekly delivery of basic essentials to families, from a group that was originally set up to provide a community swimming pool.
An offer by one young mother in the Shropshire town of Shifnal to go shopping for someone self-isolating has expanded to an emergency helpline, which has already answered 1000 calls for support. Shifnal Help, which is based at the church office of St Andrew’s, offers support, medication collection and delivery, shopping, and other essential tasks, six days a week.