Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2017

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2017

In a pastoral letter to World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches and ecumenical partners, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom urged people to give highest priority to “doing whatever we can do to protect life”  and “This is a time to touch each other’s hearts, by what we say, what we share, what we do – and what we do not do – to protect the life God loves so much.”

They address the fellowship with their words “We greet you, as we pray together for one another, for our loved ones, indeed for all God’s humanity in these testing times of the COVID-19 pandemic. God of life – lead us to justice and peace!”

Praying and working for justice and peace includes also health. This is very concrete these days,” they write. “We can, and we must, break the line of transmission of the virus.”

"That means today to observe strictly the measures, restrictions and advice given by health authorities that are guided by all available and reliable scientific knowledge provided through the World Health Organization. Some of you have already been very deeply affected,” the letter continues. “Many countries are touched by this now-global infection, and experience heavy restrictions and tough measures to reduce the transmission of the virus.”

Other countries are likely to face similar challenges in the days and weeks to come, the letter continues. “Many of us will be infected by the virus.,” Tveit and Abuom write. “For the most vulnerable this can be life-threatening.”

“Faith communities can in times like these do a lot to promote solidarity and accountability, wisdom and care. We have to be in solidarity with those for whom self-isolating means a loss of livelihood and even the risk of starvation, and with those whose precarious daily life leaves very few options for social distancing.”

For all this, halting the pandemic is essential, and this cannot be done unless people and nations care for each other and unite in action. “We value togetherness in worship and Christian fellowship. But in this time of crisis, and out of love for each other and the neighbour, we should not gather in great numbers together, if at all, nor touch or embrace each other.”

Tveit and Abuom affirm the hard work and commitment of many in the local churches in confronting this crisis. "This is the time to be well organized and creative —from changing liturgical practices to going digital, to staying in touch with those affected or at risk, through phone calls and other remote means, and otherwise adjusting to this new reality.“

Tveit and Abuom conclude: “This is the call to the one ecumenical movement of love. Because our hope is given to us from the God of life, it is powerful and keeps us united in love and service.” And they added “We are in this together.”

Read the full letter

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