Faith Communities and Covid-19
A Statement on behalf of the Worcestershire Interfaith Forum
5th May 2020
The Worcestershire Interfaith Forum aims to foster mutual respect and understanding, and promoting social cohesion. In these testing times, it is important for us to maintain these aims. Despite differences in belief and practice, our message is the same – treat others as you wish to be treated. It is a maxim found in many religions and cultures, and generally known as The Golden Rule.
Social distancing is challenging for everyone. Many faith communities have found different ways for their members to meet up through video links, which is a source of great comfort. At this time of year many faiths celebrate important festivals. They are occasions when our families and communities get together, so we have missed the close personal contact which virtual meeting cannot replicate. With places of worship closed, many communities have developed alternative lines of communication such as online/video conferencing-type services and education courses, as well as virtual social events like coffee mornings, discussions, and quizzes. Keeping in touch with our members, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, is important in each faith tradition. This can be done through emails and setting up a telephone system.
Faith communities generally enjoy good relations with each other, and this is particularly so during times of crisis. You may remember the support given to the Worcester Muslim community by people of many faiths following the appalling shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. So too, in the Corvid-19 crisis, where the virus is indiscriminate and knows no bounds, religious leaders and communities are working together to provide support not just to each other, but to the wider community. The bonds seem to be growing ever stronger.
We all do what we can whether or not we are members of a faith community. We are so lucky that in this age we have access to the technology which can keep us connected with our communities, families and friends. As Winston Churchill said: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. Our attitude towards the situation we are all in matters every day. It has given us the opportunity to take responsibility for ourselves and others, as Hillel the Elder said about 2000 years ago, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself what am I? And if not now, when?”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the frontline workers in the NHS, the medics, the paramedics, the carers, the support staff, those who are keeping us fed, those taking away our rubbish, and all the other essential workers we often overlook. We urge everyone to continue to follow the Government’s advice, as it is still vital to minimise the risk of the virus spreading and to reduce the burden on the NHS and other agencies.
To those who, sadly, have lost loved ones, we offer our condolences. To those of you who are ill, we wish a speedy and complete recovery. To those who are self-isolating we wish you well.
Keep safe, keep well Yvonne
Dr Yvonne Stollard, Chair Worcestershire Interfaith Forum
Contact via our website – https://interfaithworcestershire.wordpress.com/