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March 23, 2020
We are posting updates and messages from our Partners as we receive them so please check this page regularly. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we face this challenging environment together in the wake of COVID-19.
24 March 2020
Statement By The Archbishop Of The Anglican Church Of Melanesia On The Corona Virus
In recent weeks, the world was gripped by the impact of the corona virus in different countries including our own country, Solomon Islands. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic. Governments around the world are taking various measures to prevent the entry and spread of the virus in their respective countries.
In our beloved Solomon Islands, the relevant government authorities through the Corona Virus Steering Committee have developed measures not only to prevent the entry of the virus into our country but also to prevent the spread of the sickness if it does get onto our shores. For example it issued its third Travel Advisory on the 13 March 2020. The Church appeals to its members and all citizens of our country to strictly comply with measures outlined in the travel advisory.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has issued a number of brochures and posters which explains in simple terms what we should do to protect ourselves, our families and communities. These includes guidelines on personal hygiene which we must practice in our homes, workplaces and in Church and community gatherings. We must not wait for a positive case of the virus to be reported before we start practicing these healthy habits.
Living with our extended families even in Honiara and other urban centres provides an environment for the easy spread of the virus. It might helpful to encourage relatives living with working families in Honiara to consider returning to our home villages if there are no urgent reasons to be in Honiara. Having a smaller number of people living in a home should help families in Honiara practice more effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Church also encourages its members to avoid any unnecessary travel overseas. And if the virus does enter the country, members are kindly asked to reconsider plans to hold large gatherings and celebrations. In Honiara, Church members are kindly requested to refrain from visiting public places and gathering unless absolutely necessary. We further encouraged members to avoid travelling from one house to another unless the visit is necessary.
The ACoM will be issuing further guidelines to our parishes as what we should or should not do as far as our public worship is concerned. Members are kindly requested to show understanding should some changes be made to our worship and liturgical practices. For now I call on all Christians in Honiara to steadfastly hold our beloved country in prayer; for the victims of the virus, the scientists researching for possible cure and for cessation of the spread of the virus.
Finally, I would like to once again appeal to all ACOM members, all Christian people and friends to support the efforts of the government authorities and other stakeholders by complying with instructions and follow public health messages issued to date. I understand that as Christians we have faith, I am asking us all to express our faith by taking full responsibility to work together with the Government, not only for our personal health but also for our families, communities and our nation of Solomon Islands.
24 March 2020
We have learnt from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) that last Friday, 20 March, the Cathedral Heights compound and the vicinity of St Luke’s Medical Center (www.stlukes.com.ph) in Manila was placed under extreme community quarantine. There is a road blockade and no vehicle is allowed to pass through, although the hospital is still able to receive patients. One of the staff at St Andrew’s Theological Seminary (located within the compound), Mr Efren Bol-igen, is now serving as the authorized runner – the person delegated to buy medicine, groceries, food, etc for the residents. Despite the main gate being closed, the ECP has invited the police team to set up their monitoring center just outside the National Office building. ECP continues to provide the police with coffee and snacks and have opened up a bathroom for their needs. Meals are being provided to the police by St Luke’s Medical Center.
Patient transport services were previously offered by the Cathedral Heights Compound using volunteer drivers for those who need to go to hospital for medical care. These services are now being provided by volunteers from the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Philippines who have stepped in to fill the gap. By Friday afternoon they had already brought in a patient needing dialysis and a boy who had been bitten by a dog.
Lord, we give you thanks for our Partner, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, and we rejoice in the help they are able to continue to give to your people through their patient transport services. Be with all those who are under community quarantine in the Cathedral Heights compound, and assure them of your love. We pray that when the time comes for their release from such straitened conditions, they may be welcomed back into the arms of their families and friends. This we ask in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen.
Diocese of Jerusalem
11 March 2020
International Partners of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem
I am writing to convey to you how the Coronavirus epidemic has been affecting our ministries within the Diocese of Jerusalem, as well as how you might help during these trying times.
As you may have read, last Thursday the Palestinian Authority closed all educational institutions, mosques, and churches for one month, as well as prohibiting any public gatherings. The Israeli Authorities have entirely closed off the Bethlehem area. As a result, the Arab Evangelical School and the Episcopal Technological and Vocational Training Center in Ramallah have been closed, as has the Christian National Kindergarten in Nablus. Our churches in Ramallah, Birzeit, Nablus, and Zababdeh have all been affected by this order.
Here in Jerusalem, because so many of our teachers and staff come from the Bethlehem area, we have also been forced to close St. George’s School and partially close the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre, though children’s rehabilitation, special needs, and mothers’ classes continue. In addition, travel restrictions by the Israeli government have led to cancelations in St. George’s Guesthouse and at St. George’s College, forcing the College to cancel its courses until at least Easter, with the hope that they will resume during the last week of April.
Other parts of the Diocese have been less affected, though the dwindling number of pilgrims has already placed a huge burden on poorer families. This is especially the case for those living in the Bethlehem area, whose economy is largely dependent upon the pilgrim ministry, which has ground to a halt: The Church of the Nativity is closed, hotels are empty, and the normally busy market streets are now barren.
As we are already beginning to hear from families in need of support because of lost wages and income, I am asking all our partners to do three things. First, I request that you set up and advertise a special relief fund for those impacted by this crisis so that I can respond positively to the many requests for help we are starting to receive. Secondly, once this crisis has passed, I would ask you to encourage pilgrimages to resume as quickly as possible in order to help restore normalcy to both the spiritual and economic life here. Finally, during this Holy Season of Lent, I would especially ask you to pray for us, even as we all offer our prayers for those afflicted by the Coronavirus around the world, as well as those suffering from the economic hardships this epidemic has caused.
It is my prayer that with the coming of Easter next month, in view of the current crisis, our commemoration of Christ’s resurrection will have an even greater meaning, thanks to the Grace of God and to your continuing prayers and support.
Grace and Peace,
The Most Reverend Suheil S. Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
March 18, 2020
Grace and peace be with you.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China in late January 2020, we have been richly blessed by partners and friends around the world who have offered support timely and generously in terms of finance and purchasing assistance for medical supplies for medical staff in China.
A good number of Amity staffers have worked days and nights during the epidemic trying to be of some help in the containment of virus. With the support from all walks of life, we have been able to send pulse oximeter, sterilizers, masks, coveralls, life-support machine and other needed medical supplies and equipment to frontline medical staff in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province. You may find more details at https://amityfoundation.org/eng/
At the very moment when we were about to take a break on the decreasing number of new confirmed cases in China, in came the news of the outbreak globally. We have been following the news and figures closely and are very concerned about the massive spread of the virus at such an alarming speed.
Having been through the difficult time ourselves, we understand how you feel in countries where increasing number of confirmed cases are identified, and more strict measures are taken. Our hearts and minds are with you.
At this very special time, we pray and hope that all churches and church-related organizations around the world will act unitedly to battle against the virus to end the fear and infection. Pray that we may join efforts together and support the most vulnerable groups in this difficult time. May God give us continued strength and wisdom in our common fight against this global pandemic.
Yours in Him,
Chairman of the Board
19 March 2020
National Aboriginal Bishop, Chris McLeod, has written to all members of NATSIAC (the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council):
I am praying for you all during this COVID-19 pandemic. I do hope that you are taking all the necessary steps to keep your communities and yourselves safe. I have shared my advice with General Synod Office that public worship in Aboriginal communities should be suspended. Aboriginal communities are particularly vulnerable at this time, and the spread of COVID-19 in these communities will be very destructive. Even those of us in urban contexts need to keep to safe practices. Many of you, I know, have already suspended public worship, as have many dioceses. I also know that many of you are using other ways to offer worship. This pandemic will of necessity cause disruption to our normal ways of meeting, but we can still communicate through email, phone, and social media. Where this is not possible, it is important that we keep praying for each other, and to be assured that we are always united together in Christ.
On a related theme, I have heard some Aboriginal people say, with others, that they will be protected through the ‘blood of Jesus’. I’m sure many people take this to be understood in the context of salvation. However, there are some who believe it be an inoculation against catching COVID-19 or any other disease. This is, of course, not true. Christians are no more protected from infectious disease that any other people. Death has a 100% success rate! No Christian is spared from illness or, in time, death. I ask all of you to encourage our people not to take unnecessary risks, and to be wise. God certainly supports us in the time of trouble, but he does not guarantee that problems and illness will not befall us (Matt 25: 36; 2 Cor 12: 7 – 9; 1 Cor 15). God gives us strength and hope in times such as these (Psalm 23).
Almighty and All–loving God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we pray to you through Christ the Healer
for those who suffer from the Coronavirus Covid–19
in … and across the world.
We pray too for all who reach out to those who mourn the loss
of each and every person who has died as a result of contracting the disease.
Give wisdom to policymakers,
skill to healthcare professionals and researchers,
comfort to everyone in distress
and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and distress.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
who showed compassion to the outcast,
acceptance to the rejected
and love to those to whom no love was shown.
(A Prayer distributed by Anglican Primate of Australia, The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier)
In Christ’s love.
19 March 2020
With public health experts warning of the particular risks of COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Principal of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, The Rev’d Canon Victor Joseph has shared this update. Please include the students and staff of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College in your prayers.
“At 9:30am today I have advised all staff that we will cease face to face training in Cairns until further notice. The College have already had a block for 2 courses and we were on the eve of having our theology block delivery as of Monday 23rd but that will no longer commence now. I have already sent an open letter to all students and another letter specifically to our NSW students on my decision based on the progress and advice from State and Commonwealth authorities. I also had to seek further details from the Regional Councils of the Northern Peninsula and the Torres Strait on any local Govt. decisions that will be made. Any Local Govt. Decisions from the NPARC and TSIRC could impact on our students from returning to their communities.
“There will be no further intensives until further notice and all Staff travel are now cancelled. I ask all our ABM supporters to continue to pray not only for our College but for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia as they prepare with limited resources available within their communities.”