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“Pray at home” an ecumenical call in Brazil

“Pray at home” an ecumenical call in Brazil

Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

09 April 2020

In a time when Brazil has been the arena of somehow conflicting narratives on how to face the COVID-19 pandemic, World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches have been active in supporting health authorities such as the World Health Organization in their efforts to advise people to be away from agglomerations that could increase transmission of the virus.

Rev. João Luiz Furtado, president of the General Assembly of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, issued a public statement on 2 April reaffirming the churchs commitment to following the orientations of the federal ministry of health to flatten the curve of infection by coronavirus in the country.

In his message, Furtado also recommended that all congregations and church members should hold celebrations and services via internet and engage in initiatives to offer food supply for low-income families in their neighborhoods.

Brazilian Methodists are also strongly engaged in reinforcing the orientation from global and national health authorities. The church recently launched a request for prayers for all health workers in Brazil.

What is our task as Christian people? Follow the guidance of the authorities and avoid agglomerations. Our role and mission is to take care of people,said Bishop Marisa de Freitas Ferreira, from the Methodist Church of Brazil. My recommendation as a doctor and as a bishop is that we don't hold services in our churches now. Let's pray at our homes. Nobody will stop worshiping God, but in the temple, for now, we will.

On 6 April, the leadership of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil  released a public message saying that this year the Holy Week will be different, but it will not be less significant or less important. God is not stuck in a place; not even stuck in time. God is everywhere and at all times. We will have a Holy Week with the presence of the God of life, who in Jesus Christ overcame death to give us full life and to save us.”

The Lutheran headquarters and its 1,800 congregations are in their third week of quarantine, a decision taken jointly by the presidency and the 18 synodal pastors.

We are aware that the decision not to allow face-to-face meetings will have its consequences, one of which has to do with our sustainability,reads the letter. But we are firm in the belief that the important thing at this point is to save lives, reducing the possibility of contagion and allowing public authorities more time to prepare to care for sick people.

The United Presbyterian Church suspended all prayer services and public gatherings. “It is our duty, as the Church of Christ, to be in constant prayer that God is protecting not only our community, but also the Earth, our common home, especially all those who do not have the necessary resources to overcome this phase,” reads the statement from the church’s Coordinator Council issued on 18 March.

For the leadership of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, the pandemic isa major pastoral challenge.” The churchs National Liturgy Commission released some liturgical guidelines with pastoral resources to be followed by the congregations as they invite people to continue to pray at home. The document includes guidelines for prayers and recommendations for funeral services with people affected by the pandemic.

We all hope, pray and work to overcome this pandemic so the world will move on. But how will the new normallook? The COVID-19 episode might bring us all together, which would be very positive. But the crisis has also the potential to make the already fragile social cohesion erode. Either way, churches will be part of this new reality.

WCC member churches in  Brazil

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