A church leader in the UK has urged the Church of England to observe a month of prayer as England starts its second national lockdown.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, together with the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, wrote a letter to the CoE to embrace the winter lockdown restrictions and use this time for prayer to serve the faithful, reports Premier Christian News.
During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer. —Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on October 31 that a national lockdown will be in effect starting November 5 and ending on December 2. As part of the lockdown, places of worship will be closed, unless used for select services including funerals, individual prayer, and broadcasting acts of worship.
In a joint letter, the trio wrote: “A second lockdown will be upon us on Thursday. It is going to be different from the first one. The days are getting shorter and colder. We are anxious for ourselves, for those we love, especially those who are vulnerable and elderly, and for our families.”
The three church leaders admitted that the second national lockdown will be harder than the first, but assured that God will “give us the courage and humility we need to be faithful witnesses to the gospel of peace.”
During the first lockdown in March, Christians were encouraged to cheer for the National Health Service every Thursday for their exceptional work in managing the pandemic. “During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer,” wrote the trio.
They lauded the church’s creativity in reaching out to their congregations despite the health protocols against COVID-19. “We have managed to maintain and, in many cases, extend our outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online.”
The joint letter was issued amid other faith leaders’ criticism against new restrictions on religious worship. A Catholic church leader, among other religious leaders, expressed his dismay over the ban on public communal services, reports The Guardian.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said, “…we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus.”
Meantime, John Stevens, national director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), suggested a final service on November 4, on the eve of the second lockdown.