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The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, and the five primates elected to represent their regions on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, write a joint letter to the Anglican Communion about the Covid-19 pandemic.
A message to Anglicans around the world from the global leadership of the Anglican Communion
As governments around the world react and respond to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, many people are finding themselves facing unprecedented restrictions on their day-to-day lives.
Many of us will have lived with such restrictions on a temporary basis in our particular country or region over recent years in response to instability, wars, and natural disasters. But for many, such restrictions are new. In any event, the global nature of the restrictions put them on an entirely different scale not seen since the Second World War.
Many provinces of the Anglican Communion have suspended public worship in response to local official advice. This, along with other restrictions people are being asked to face, may be daunting, confusing and upsetting.
The first thing that we want to say is that the suspension of public corporate acts of worship does not mean that we stop worshipping God. We can worship Him and continue to pray both privately and within our families. We have a number of resources to help you pray, including the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, through which we can join together, around the world, to pray for specific dioceses and provinces of our Anglican Communion. You can find these at anglicancommunion.org/prayer.
The second thing we want to say is a reminder to us all to continue to place our trust in God. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul said: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And Paul, with Timothy, in their letter to the Church at Philippi, said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In our prayers, in addition to praying for those who are ill, and for those who are lonely, we should pray for wisdom for those in authority and for strength to be given to medical workers. We should do more than pray. We should also act by heeding the advice of our respective national and regional authorities who are working to contain the virus; and we should care for those who are unable to care for themselves.
We want you to know that we are all praying for you all at this time and we will continue to pray for the whole of God’s Church and God’s World.
The Most Revd and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
President of the Anglican Consultative Council,
Chair of the Primates’ Meeting
The Most Revd Paul Kwong
Archbishop of Hong Kong
Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council
The Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Most Revd Jackson Ole Sapit
Archbishop of Kenya
Standing Committee Primates’ Representative for the Africa region
The Most Revd Julio Murray Thompson
Archbishop of Central America
Standing Committee Primates’ Representative for the Americas region
The Most Revd Humphrey Peters
Moderator of the united Church of Pakistan
Standing Committee Primates’ Representative for the Asia Region
The Most Revd John Davies
Archbishop of Wales
Standing Committee Primates’ Representative for the Europe Region
The Most Revd Philip Richardson
Archbishop of New Zealand
Standing Committee Primates’ Representative for the Oceania Region
Churches around the world should immediately take advice from their country’s ministry of health about the suspension of public worship to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenor of the Anglican Communion’s Health Network has said.
The Anglican Communion is a family of 40 member churches, which are each autonomous and inter-dependent. No Church or body has authority over any other church, and this afternoon’s statement is only advisory.
Some of the Anglican Communion’s 40 member churches have already suspended public worship at a provincial level; while others are leaving the decision to individual dioceses or parishes.
The Anglican Communion Health Network is convened by Dr Michael Beasley, the Bishop of Hertford in the Church of England. Bishop Michael is an epidemiologist. He previously served as Director of the Partnership for Child Development in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College, London.
He said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic develops around the world, official public health authorities are advising churches not to join together for worship and other gatherings and to worship remotely, staying in the home.
“This is crucial to prevent the spread of the virus, to save the lives of the most vulnerable and to protect health services from being overwhelmed by cases. It is the loving thing to do, even though painful.
“Where possible, church leaders can lead in worship remotely using the internet, radio or a call for prayer at a specific time. Single households can also pray and reflect on scripture together.
“Jesus said, ‘Be sure of this: I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20) and in John 20:26 we read, ‘Though the doors were locked, Jesus stood among them and said “Peace be with you”’.
“Though we are apart, we can be together in spirit. And as we do that, let’s look forward to days when we shall again be able to meet as Christ’s Body gathered. What a celebration that will be!”
The once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, to which all bishops in the Anglican Communion's 40 provinces are invited, has been rescheduled from summer 2020 to the summer of 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.