Joint statement from Church Leaders

Embargoed until 10.00am Monday 6th April

British and Irish Church leaders united in response to Covid 19 pandemic:

In an unprecedented move, church leaders came together on Wednesday 1st April. The morning video conference included senior religious leaders from around Britain and Ireland who shared the situation in each of their jurisdictions. The initiative originated with Archbishop Justin Welby who wanted to offer an opportunity for leaders to hear and support one another in these critical days for our nations.

The afternoon video meeting of senior officers of many of the churches included discussions about on-line worship, pastoral care in hospitals, funeral arrangements in various places, along with information on furlough arrangements being considered by some churches.

The statement is supported by churches in membership of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, along with Churches Together in England, Cytun, ACTS and the Irish Council of Churches.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Bob Fyffe (CTBI) at bob.fyffe@ctbi.org.uk or on 07940660099

Contacts within the nations include Aled Edwards (Cytun) aled@cytun.cymru Paul Goodliff (CTE) paul.goodliff@cte.org.uk Nicola Brady (ICC) nicola@irishchurches.org John McPake (Scottish rep) jmcpake@churchofscotland.org.uk

 

Holy Week Statement from British and Irish Church Leaders

God’s world is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. In the nations that make up Britain and Ireland the Covid-19 virus continues to affect people at an alarming rate, health services along with many of our institutions and organisations, both local and national, are under extreme pressure and people are getting used to living in a very different way, many in extreme isolation. As with all such crises, there is a danger that the most vulnerable in society will be most badly affected.

Christians the world over are entering an important time in the church year as we look to the events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. At the centre of our common faith are both the depths of despair and the heights of joy. In the Bible and in the songs and liturgies of the Church, we see Jesus entering fully into human suffering. In His rising again, that suffering is redeemed and transformed into hope and joy. After Jesus’ death his disciples were afraid and all seemed lost and hopeless, but the risen Christ met them in their despair and restored hope through his victory over death. We pray that the world today might know this hope in place of despair.

In the Book of Daniel we read about God’s people being taken into exile in Babylon. Daniel could not pray in the Temple in Jerusalem, but he continued to pray in exile – opening his window to face Jerusalem. Though he was on his own he joined with the prayers of the people wherever they were. Now we too are separated from each other physically, but when we pray in our homes we join in with this ancient tradition of our home as a place of prayer. Wherever we are, whenever we pray, when we speak and think of Christ, there he is in the midst of us. We join our prayers with all those who pray in our own churches and communities and around the world.

As church leaders from across the many and varied churches of these Islands we urge all people to join us in prayer this Holy Week and Easter; to pray for those who suffer, those who face untimely death and all those who care for them; to celebrate our common faith at a difficult time; to help and support our neighbours in need; and to observe all the safeguards in place to slow the spread of disease.

 

Our Prayer

Loving God, in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation, cast out the darkness of our anxiety, fear and mourning, enfold us in your love and give us joy and hope this Easter. Amen.

 

Archbishop Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster

Very Rev Dr William Henry

Moderator General Assembly

Presbyterian Church of Ireland

Rt. Revd Colin Sinclair Moderator General Assembly Church of Scotland

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop of Armagh

Commissioner Anthony Cotterill The Salvation Army

Revd Nigel Uden

Moderator of General Assembly

United Reformed Church

Archbishop-elect John McDowell Archbishop of Armagh

Bishop Hugh Gilbert

Bishop of Aberdeen

Revd Dr Barbara Glasson President Methodist Church of Great Britain

His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas

Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain

Revd Lynn Green General Secretary Baptist Union of Great Britain

Bishop Mark Strange

Primus, Scottish Episcopal Church

Archbishop John Davies Archbishop of Wales

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos

Coptic Archbishop of London

Pastor Agu Irukwu Redeemed Christian Church of God

Mr Rheinallt Thomas

President Free Church Council Wales

Revd Hugh Osgood Moderator Free Church Federal Council

Revd Brian Anderson

President Irish Council of Churches

Gavin Calver

CEO Evangelical Alliance Revd Sam McGuffin President Methodist Church in Ireland Paul Parker Religious Society of Friends