The people of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are passing through a period of considerable distress as the effects of the coronavirus are felt throughout the whole island. We wish to add our voices to those of so many others to encourage a sense of solidarity and responsible citizenship as we help our Governments and our communities to plot a path through the various challenges which lie ahead.
We are confident that the people of the Church of Ireland will do all they can to act in the interests of the common good by following closely the guidance being issued, and regularly updated, by public health authorities in the respective jurisdictions.
Preparations in parishes
In doing so, we would urge parishes to do all they can to ensure that the necessary practices of self–isolation and social distancing do not leave already lonely and vulnerable people feeling abandoned.
That will require some ingenuity on the part of clergy and laypeople but may well be made easier by the many virtual ways of being alongside and remaining in contact with others that technology affords. It will also provide an opportunity for a younger generation of tech–savvy people to reach out to those who are more immediately affected by isolation.
There will also be many new opportunities to do practical things for one’s neighbours. Parishioners who have more freedom of movement may wish to volunteer to help out in practical ways. Neighbouring parishes should consider how they can work together to best serve all those who will need assistance.
Above all, as people of faith, we should both pray and maintain a sense of balance and proportion. There is every reason to believe that, by acting together in solidarity, this challenging period can be humanely and effectively negotiated. We are confident that God, in the words of the Collect for Ash Wednesday which we use so often in Lent “who hates nothing that he has made,” will be present through his Church and in the gentleness of the Spirit to be a comfort and strength to all who are in need.
A Prayer for Peace of Mind
You will keep them in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you
Heavenly Father, in your love and wisdom you know the fears and anxieties of all your children. Your Son, Jesus Christ, said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid, It is I,” and to the tempest: “Peace be still”.
We ask, not only for ourselves but for all others, especially our healthcare workers, that we may cast all our cares on you, for we know you care for us.
Give us peace of mind and unshaken trust in you and guide us into perfect peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson & The Rt Revd John McDowell