Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
23 September 2020
It is clear that we now have to gear up for a second wave of the coronavirus. This is hard. Many people were starting to believe things could return to normal. They can’t. But neither are we in the same place as before. We have learned a great deal. In our leadership of the Church and in the witness we show to our nation we need to be determined, resilient and hopeful. We will need to be more critical in our response to restrictions that are above and beyond government regulations, helping the church at the local level, in parish and diocese, steer a course that is marked by responsible action towards each other, care for the most vulnerable, and witness for the poor and disadvantaged who are suffering disproportionately. All this is the nature of love.
Our national situation is much more complicated than it was in March. The divisions are deeper. There is public and reasonable concern about hunger – especially amongst children – and homelessness, with an expected rapid rise in evictions. Domestic violence remains a major issue which is concealed.
We are also in a situation which threatens the recovery from the huge decline in the economy in the second quarter. The most vulnerable to this second wave are the small companies who employ the most people, and especially those in the hospitality industry. It will be for us and others to encourage the banks, who received such help in 2009, to be equally merciful to others as the nation was to them. St Matthew 18:23-35 seems highly relevant.
The poor, the elderly and isolated are especially vulnerable. There will be growing nervousness about Christmas, about mental health and many other issues that cannot be considered in this very short letter.
We are called to be responsible, but we are also called to resilience and prophetic speech. We have the networks, long since mobilised, and the partnerships to serve especially the hungry and homeless. Our schools are a particular treasure.
However, there will also be a sense of tiredness; the weariness which comes with dealing with yet another threat and difficulty. To face this, we must continue to encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. We must in our meetings be transparent with each other, able to say difficult things in a way that avoids mistakes being made through unwilling acquiescence to the perceived view of the majority.
Most of all we need to draw close to Christ, and continue to offer the hope and stability of the gospel. It is this gospel joy, even in the darkest times, that alone can help us through this crisis, bringing hope and an eternal perspective to the very pressing trials of the moment.
We are so grateful for our partnership with you in this work. Do feel free to share this letter as you see fit. And please be assured of our prayers.
In the peace of Christ,
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby The Most Revd & Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop of York