On Sunday 21 March, Churches Together in England will mark the anniversary of the start of the first national lockdown and the ecumenical #PrayersOfHope initiative.
As the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep the globe, candles were lit in thousands of homes across Britain on Sunday 22 March 2020, symbolising the light of Christ shining into the darkness.
Through the tragic events of the last year, churches across the nation have been active in serving their communities in creative and caring ways – from providing food and shelter to organising online memorial services to hosting drive-in carol services. Many churches are now temporary vaccination centres and promoting vaccine education opportunities to tackle hesitancy, as well as continuing to provide spiritual and emotional support to their communities.
Research on The Church in Lockdown from Your Neighbour shows that more than 70% of churches have delivered new services during the pandemic, many in areas of community outreach in which they had not been active in before.
Churches across the country have also continued to be active in prayer, with initiatives such as the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s Prayer Shield and The Church of England’s Prayer for the Nation springing up.
Christians have been invited to join together to pray each Sunday evening at 7pm, with Premier Christian Radio airing a weekly broadcast of the Prayers of Hope programme at this time. Many of our national Member Churches have contributed prayers to the broadcast during the last twelve months.
A special anniversary #PrayersOfHope programme will go out on Premier Radio on Sunday 21 March this year, at 7pm. Church leaders including CTE Presidents have recorded special prayers for the anniversary programme.
“Prayer has been an important foundation over the past 12 months,” says CTE General Secretary, Rev Dr Paul Goodliff. “And churches have also worked together on hundreds of practical projects helping their communities.”
“We’ve seen churches supporting the bereaved and those working on the front line. They‘ve been collecting and distributing food, offering a listening ear or a friendly chat and have more recently been supporting the vaccination roll out with some of them becoming vaccination hubs. In the midst of the sadness of the last year, it has been so encouraging to see the church being Christ’s hands and feet in our community.”