Archbishops call for national daily prayer to remember pandemic dead

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have urged people to take a moment each day to pause and remember the more than 100,000 people across the UK who have died after contracting Covid-19.

In an open letter to the nation, the Most Rev Justin Welby and the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell invited people to “reflect on the enormity of this pandemic” following the reaching of the “terrible milestone”.

They wrote: “One hundred thousand isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us.

“We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.”

Mr Welby and Mr Cottrell called on people, regardless of whether they have faith or not, to join in a “prayer for the nation” at 6pm every day from February 1.

The archbishops’ message comes as the Government’s figure for coronavirus deaths passed 100,000 – although separate data published by statistics agencies puts the toll at 115,000.

Their letter acknowledges the fear that people may be feeling and that poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those with disabilities have been “disproportionately” affected by the pandemic and “cry out for the healing of these inequalities”.

Urging people to follow government guidelines and advice, the archbishops added: “We show our commitment, care and love for one another by ensuring we do everything we can to stop the virus spreading.”

Their letter continued: “None of this is easy. Very many of us are experiencing isolation, loneliness, anxiety and despondency like never before. Many people have lost their livelihoods. Our economy struggles.

“Also, the necessary restrictions we live with have also prevented us from being alongside loved ones as they died, or even at their graveside. All grief profoundly affects us, but this pandemic grief is so hard.

“Therefore, we need to support each other. We do this by following the guidelines. But we also do it by reaching out to each other with care and kindness.

“One thing we can all do is pray. We hope it is some consolation to know that the church prays for the life of our nation every day.

“Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on February 1 we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day.

“More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love.”

The archbishops described NHS and social care staff as “a blessing and lifeline for our nation”.

“We are grateful for the service given in local communities by clergy, other frontline workers and so many good neighbours,” they wrote.

“We are grateful for the hope of the vaccine. It is a testimony to the God-given wisdom and gifts of scientists and researchers. We urge everyone to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.”

The archbishops emphasised their “Christian hope”, concluding: “Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s Kingdom every tear will be wiped away.”

Resources to help the call to prayer for the nation will be made available at: