The Archbishop of Canterbury launches initiative called ‘Together in Unity’ to support churches and communities around the world during the COVID-19 crisis

28 July 2020

Churches in Asia supporting COVID-19 prevention practices. Photo: courtesy of Anglican Communion Fund

A special initiative called “Together in Unity” has been launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury today in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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The Archbishop has shared a pastoral message to bishops and spouses of the worldwide Anglican Communion about the impact of COVID-19, encouraging Anglican dioceses and parishes to support one another during this difficult time.

The Archbishop’s video message has been shared on what would have been the period of the fifteenth Lambeth Conference– a decennial meeting for Anglican bishops and spouses in Canterbury. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference has been rescheduled to the British summer of 2022.

The message builds on the Archbishop’s message to the Communion at the time of the announcement, which has encouraged the Anglican Communion “to walk together and be good news in the world”.

The “Together in Unity” initiative (which is being organised by the Anglican Communion Fund) will raise funding support for COVID relief in areas of the Communion hardest hit by COVID-19 and seek to demonstrate solidarity across the Communion.

Churches and dioceses around the Anglican Communion are providing support services in their communities to tackle COVID outbreaks in their settings. Many are in countries where the health infrastructure and support measures may be severely under strain.

The initiative will work to provide income support, facilities for basic hygiene, equipment to slow the spread of the virus and food security – including for clergy.

It will be one of many important COVID-19 appeals that are happening across the Anglican Communion at this time.  The Anglican Alliance COVID-19 resource hub also provides a wide range of guidance and information from Anglican provinces, to help churches respond to the pandemic.

Speaking of the pandemic, the Archbishop’s message acknowledges that everyone has been affected by the impact of COVID-19 in different ways – and that some communities and dioceses have been harder hit than others.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has hurt families, communities and nations across the world in so many ways. In our Communion, there is not one province, diocese or parish that is untouched by the pandemic. The body of Christ is hurting. We know that some parts of the body are more hurt than others. And they need our help.”

The Anglican Communion Fund has already allocated over £180k of funding to support churches in areas of need across the Communion as part of a special COVID-specific grant cycle.

In Maridi, South Sudan: Over two hundred pastors and lay readers were provided food relief, church leaders were trained in virus prevention, and bicycles and hand microphones were provided for five pastors to carry virus prevention messages into remote areas through an Anglican Communion Fund Grant.

In Bangladesh: In the midst of job losses and economic pressures from lockdown, hundreds of vulnerable families, from both church and wider communities, have received support to enable them to buy food and daily necessities.

The Archbishop’s message also references the book of 1 Peter – the Biblical theme to the Lambeth Conference and Psalm 133 saying: “Peter refers to us as living stones, built up as a spiritual house. We are the household of faith. The household of God. In Psalm 133, David declares how good and pleasant it is for us to dwell together in unity. In this time of global crisis, we need to care for the weaker, and the more vulnerable members of the household. The pain and suffering of my own sister and brother must become my own pain and suffering. I must do what I can to help. By bringing our help across the world, we will fulfil our personal responsibility that God has given us through his call to the church.”

The ‘Together In Unity’ initiative is encouraging bishops and dioceses to share information about the campaign in their communities and support however they are able. Information can be found on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s web site.

(Story from the Lambeth Conference website.)

The Anglican Alliance welcomes this special initiative through the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Communion Fund, alongside the other COVID-19 appeals around the Communion.

Revd Canon Rachel Carnegie, Anglican Alliance Executive Director, said: “We hear daily from churches around the Communion on the desperate needs not just within poorer communities, but within churches themselves, impacted in so many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The churches are already responding with courage, compassion and creativity to this most challenging of times, drawing on their own assets and gifts to help the vulnerable – but the needs are intense and increasing.” 

“This is a time like no other,” Rachel said. “All parts of the Communion are affected, but some provinces and dioceses are facing the most devastating of situations. As the Archbishop’s appeal highlights, standing ‘together in unity’ is so crucial as we pray for one another and seek to share our resources and support one another as the Body of Christ.”

Please also visit the Anglican Alliance COVID-19 Resource Hub. This includes information and guidelines for churches in the Anglican Communion on how to manage the situation within their churches and how to respond within their communities. It includes bible studies, Faith in the Time of COVID-19, and a range of specially developed resources, as well as case studies from around the Communion. The resource hub is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and the Bible studies are also available in Arabic.