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Press Release: Faith Communities and COVID-19

On 23 March, the member bodies of the Inter Faith Network for the UK marked together the minute of silence as part of the National Day of Reflection, remembering those who have died with COVID-19.

24 March 2021

On 23 March, the member bodies of the Inter Faith Network for the UK marked together the minute of silence as part of the National Day of Reflection, remembering those who have died with COVID-19. Ahead of the silence, a statement by IFN’s Co-Chairs and Faith Community Forum Moderators was read. This statement is reproduced at the end of the release.

During the day, a multi faith gathering of nearly 120 people from national faith community bodies and local and national inter faith organisations and other bodies heard about the remarkable faith community response to need in the community during the pandemic.

The meeting, which was chaired by the Inter Faith Network’s Co-Chairs, the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark and Mr Narendra Waghela, explored a wide range of issues. These included how places of worship have coped with periods of closure and with social distancing; health care chaplaincy and the handling of funerals and bereavement; and responding to loneliness and domestic abuse during the pandemic. It heard from faith communities with high BAME membership responding to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on them and about initiatives to address vaccine hesitancy.

The gathering also considered how digital communication is being used for inter faith dialogue and cooperation and the future possibilities of that; how faith communities, local authorities and other statutory agencies have been working in partnership; how schools have adapted during the pandemic and a new IFN teacher resource to help 11-14 year olds learn about inter faith activity, with examples from inter faith responses to the pandemic; the financial impact of the pandemic on faith community organisations; capturing the pandemic experience through research; and solidarity and statements.  

A short report with speakers and organisations can be found here.

The Co-Chairs and Faith Communities Forum Moderators’ statement is as follows:

At this meeting of Inter Faith Network member bodies today, we join with all those around the UK holding a minute’s silence at the noon hour to remember the lives of those who have died with COVID-19. 

Faith communities have experienced the loss and illness of many among their number. Some have experienced an especially heavy impact because their members are drawn in part or entirely from groups disproportionately affected by COVID-related illness and death.  

We hold particularly in our prayers at this time the families, friends and colleagues of all who have died, their sorrow of loss deepened by isolation and, for many, inability to observe traditional rites of mourning. We hold also in our prayers those who continue to provide physical and spiritual support for the dying and the bereaved.

As well as remembering those who have died, we give thanks for all that has been done, by so many, to support those whose lives have been affected by the pandemic.

Let us, as we pause to remember, also commit to moving forward in hope and with commitment to working for a reopening of society that reflects the values of mutual concern, support and compassion demonstrated during this last year.

Notes for editors
  1. Press queries to the Inter Faith Network: email
  2. The Inter Faith Network for the UK was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.
  3. Member bodies of the Inter Faith Network include: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith issues.
  4. The Statement can also be found here.