- BBC local radio is to broadcast weekly reflections from Muslim faith leaders during the coronavirus outbreak. The first was on Friday morning at 0550 and was led by Imam Qari Asim. The broadcasts will be available on BBC sounds afterwards. Chris Burns, head of BBC Local Radio, said: “Many Muslims will feel a void in their lives where prayers used to be – a feeling the will be magnified as we approach Ramadan. Local radio is all about connecting communities and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating.”
- The British Board of Deputies, working with the Jewish community’s burial boards, report there have been 85 Jewish funerals carried out where the deceased contracted Covid-19. The Board of Deputies is liaising with six of the largest denominational burial boards and the Orthodox burial boards in Manchester to collate an indicator of deaths where COVID-19 was a factor.
- The Church Times is advising that a variety of resources for people to worship at home is available. These include a prayer app and podcast, Royal School of Church Music Hymn for the Day, PDFs about meditation techniques and being resilient, David Suchet reading Bible passages and advice on livestreaming services
St Paul’s cathedral is organising a Choir of the Nation ‘hymn flash mob’ for Palm Sunday and Easter Day, by asking people to record themselves singing three hymns at home which will be mixed into one act of worship. The cathedral organist has recorded backing tracks and details including scores are available online.
‘Sing Resurrection’, a campaign to encourage people to sing ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’ followed by ‘Thine be the Glory’, has gone global. The brainchild of David Potts, with support of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, it has now been taken up in the USA and as far away as Dakar, Senegal. It is partnering with St Paul’s cathedral in its own ‘Choir of the Nation’ initiative
The National Methodist Choir of Great Britain is creating a virtual global church choir, with video rehearsal tracks and live streamed rehearsals. Choir members record a part at home and send it in, so that it can be blended into ‘an angelic chorus’. Methodist daily prayers are being shared on Facebook from Wesley House Cambridge and Wesley’s Chapel London
- An online virtual pilgrimage from Croyde Bay in Devon, using Facetime, TomTom and a map has been initiated by author Victoria Preston. She says 200 million people embark on a pilgrimage of some kind each year and she’s offering to lead similar virtual pilgrimages ‘Journeys in Search of Ourselves’, during the coronavirus pandemic. She had planned to walk a series of one day pilgrimages this spring and summer, to all Church of England Cathedrals and some in Wales, as part of the 2020 Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage. But those plans are abandoned because of the virus.
- In Northern Ireland, DUP councillor John Carson has blamed coronavirus on abortion legalisation and same-sex marriage. In a Facebook post, now not available, Mr Carson said: ‘I said when abortion was legalised that our nation would be judged by God because of its departure from his word and the legalisation of the murder of the unborn child as well as same-sex marriage. I was laughed at and mocked by some but as I said at the time, they laughed at Noah until the rain started. You reap what you sow and our nation is now reaping the judgment of God because of an immoral and corrupt Government. It is time to repent and turn again to the God of our fathers.’
- Hindus in West Bengal assembled outside temples yesterday (Thursday 2nd April) to celebrate the festival of Ram Navami, despite a coronavirus lockdown. The festival remembers the birth of Lord Ram, the incarnation of the god Vishnu, who helps preserve the universe and people. Worshippers sought blessings from the Lord Ram for relief from the pandemic. Temples have been closed during the pandemic, so people stood in queues maintaining a social distance, until police asked them to return home. Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted “Heartfelt greetings to all of you on the occasion of Ram Navami. My only request to Lord Ram is to give strength to all of us, especially healthcare personnel, to fight COVID-19.”
- A Virtual Pastor Network has been set up in the United States, to provide frontline pastoral care and prayer for frontline workers and people in need. Set up by Online Faith Collective, which usually shares online services, all religions, faiths and spiritualities are included as people take part in a virtual prayer and / or a compassionate conversation. Participants can connect through zoom, email, phone – any virtual medium, anywhere. Pastors from as far away as Kenya have signed up to volunteer.
The Guardian is reporting that David Mitchell, the senior rabbi of the renowned West London synagogue, has been re-instated following a two month suspension. An investigation by a former high court judge found that allegations against him did not “constitute any material criticism of the rabbi such as to justify his suspension or not honouring his contract”. David Mitchell will replace Rabbi Julia Neuberger who retires in March.