CHURCH leaders in Britain and Ireland have urged Christians to take part in a National Day of Prayer and Action about the Covid-19 on Sunday 22 March.
The call states: “Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation.”
People are asked to light a candle in their window at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday “as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ”.
The call has been issued by the presidents of the ecumenical grouping Churches Together in England, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Cytûn, the Church of Scotland, and the Evangelical Alliance.
As well as calling for prayer for the Government and those working to contain the virus, such as health-care workers, and those who are most vulnerable, the statement lists some actions that Christians might take: “Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour.”
The statement urges churches to follow Government health advice: “Wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.”
The statement in full:
Light a candle of hope: A national call to prayer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic
This Mothering Sunday, 22 March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.
At 7 p.m. this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation. We would pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the Covid-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
There are already stories being told of wonderful acts of kindness across neighbourhoods. Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour. We may not be able to touch physically, but we can make connections in so many other ways.
In the meantime, do please attend to all the government health advice that will be issued, and look out for resources from your specific church governing bodies. At least for those of us in the global North, we do seem to be in unusual times, and wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.
We note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss.
In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope.
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5.7
Presidents of Churches Together in England:
Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Archbishop Angaelos of London, CTE President for the Orthodox Churches
Pastor Agu Irukwu, CTE Pentecostal President