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Churches around the world say, ‘this is a time to touch each other’s hearts’

The heads of ecumenical organisations from around the world have come together to say that “this is a time for pastoral, prophetic and practical Christianity” amidst the Covid–19 crisis.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC), together with similar regional ecumenical organisations from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America, and the World Council of Churches, issued a joint statement yesterday, 26 March.

“We urge people everywhere to give highest priority to addressing this situation and assisting in whatever ways we can in our collective efforts to protect life. This is a time to touch each other’s hearts, by what we say, share, and do,” the leaders of the regional organisations stated.

“Religious communities are warned against gathering in large groups and worshipping. As regional church bodies, we stress in a united voice that we must follow instructions from our local authorities to fight this pandemic,” said CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen.

“While we continue to affirm the importance of prayers, finding new ways of engaging in spiritual life online, we also offer our prayers for the decision makers that are left with painful decisions in what is often chaotic situations – they all need our spiritual support,” he added.

The joint statement highlights the important and urgency of adapting modes of worship and fellowship to the needs of this time of pandemic infection.  It states: “This is an opportune time for the churches all over the world to review their role in society by safely ministering to, providing for, and caring for the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the aged – all those who are most at risk due to Covid–19.”

The leaders state that “as a global community of faith, we affirm that, even in the midst of our vulnerability, we trust in God, as God is our hope.”  They also recognise the need for responsible leadership by the state, communities, and faith leaders. “Governments at all levels must ensure access to correct and timely information, address the situations due to loss of livelihood and employment, especially to provide access to clean water and sanitizers and soap, to safe shelter, and to compassionate care for the most vulnerable.”