Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley is urging us all to “spare a prayer” for our Link dioceses during the COVID-19 crisis.
As Chair of the Diocesan Links oversight group Bishop Helen-Ann watches over all the work that goes on in the diocese involving our connections to dioceses across the world.
Bishop Helen-Ann says: “The description of COVID-19 as a ‘pandemic’ tells us that this is a crisis that is being faced by people across the globe.
“As we have had to come to terms with ‘lockdown’ we have sought to respond as a Diocese with creativity and compassion.
“Part of our life together as The Diocese of Leeds looks outwards beyond our shores to our overseas Links.
“When the Diocese was created it brought together multiple Links, the result of which is that we perhaps uniquely of all the Dioceses in the Church of England cover the four corners of the world: Sri Lanka, Tanzania, SW Virginia, Pakistan, Sudan and Germany.
“Our various Link coordinating groups have been in regular contact with our partner Dioceses and the Landeskirche Hannovers and have been sharing our stories.
Some of our link dioceses are currently facing major issues due to the pandemic.
Bishop Helen-Ann shares this story: “One example of the significant challenges facing our Links is outlined by Revd Anne Russell who shares news from Sudan.
“Revd Anne said: "The current situation in Sudan is dire.
“This is due to an existing economic crisis, subsequent political uncertainty of a young government and the emerging impact of the coronavirus- a perfect storm.
“The World Food Programme is anticipating famine ‘on a biblical scale’ in ten countries including Sudan and South Sudan.
“The Sudan Link made a small emergency relief grant of £10,000 three weeks ago - anticipating a crisis of some kind and knowing the economic situation was worsening.
“However, the banks have now been shutdown and no funds appear accessible”.
In the midst of our own challenges Bishop Helen-Ann calls on us to “spare a prayer for the communities who are facing very dire circumstances, and for all who are facing difficulty of various degrees at this time.”
A prayer for the Anglican Communion:
“Gracious God, we give you thanks for the gift of the world-wide Anglican Communion of churches: for the experience of belonging to all the ages, for the gift of thoughtful prayer that you have taught us, and for the task of reverent study to which you call us.
“We thank you for the love of worship you have stirred up in our hearts, and for the love of justice you have implanted in our wills.
“Remind us that you are with us in times of trouble as in times of joy; nurture in us thankful hearts when we stand together, and send your holy wisdom into our disagreements.
“In dispute, may we be gentle and loving; in unity, may we be humble; in poverty, nourish us with hope; in wealth, help us become responsible and generous.
“Inflame us with prophetic vision so that our fellowship may bear the likeness of the incoming kingdom proclaimed for all by Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.