National Council of Churches to Hold Virtual Ecumenical Memorial Service to Mourn the Lives Lost to COVID19 Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to join other faith leaders in remembering those who have died in global pandemic
The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) will hold a public online memorial service on Sunday, May 24, 2020 to mourn the more than 300,000 people worldwide who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 90,000 of whom were in the United States. The NCC is comprised of 38 member communions ranging from mainline Protestant to historic African American and Orthodox churches.
This service, A Time to Mourn: An Ecumenical Memorial Service for Lives Lost to COVID19, will be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook Live. The plans grew out of a profound concern by faith leaders that, due to the lock-down and other restrictions surrounding the coronavirus, people have been unable to properly grieve the passing of loved ones. The nation has not had a public moment of collective grief to acknowledge and mourn the impact of losing so many lives in such a short period of time.
The memorial will include a sermon offered by the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend Michael B. Curry, known as the “Love Preacher” after he spoke at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Meagan Markle. Many other clergy from a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, some of whom have been personally impacted by COVID-19, will offer prayers, readings and songs during the observance, including, among others:
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, NCC Chair and President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Eddy Aleman, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America
Rev. Dr. Teresa Hord Owens, President and General Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chair, Conference of National Black Churches
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, NCC Vice Chair and Presiding Prelate, Fifth District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Bishop Minerva Carcano, California-Nevada Conference, United Methodist Church
Father Nicholas Kazarian, Greek Orthodox Church.
The National Council of Churches planned the ceremony as a way for the country to join together to grieve the passing of family, friends, and even strangers we hear about in news reports. A list of names of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 is being collected and will be scrolled during the service. Names may be added by clicking here. Noting the pain and suffering felt by so many Americans whose loved ones died alone or were not able to conduct normal funeral services for them, church leaders offered the following statements:
“Religious rituals provide unique ways for us to express our feelings and close emotional wounds,” said Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, leader of the United Church of Christ and chair of the NCC Governing Board. “There are gaping needs for this right now. Our hope is that by taking part together in this observance, healing will follow in the hearts and minds of those who are grieving.”
“We are all in need of consolation during this very distressing time,” stated Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). “We will gather together to give thanks for the lives that have been lost, to commend the deceased to the love and mercy of God, and to hear the proclamation of God’s victory over death in Jesus Christ.”
“Every life deserves to be remembered and properly acknowledged in the most meaningful way possible,” said Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. “Religious ritual is an incomparable way to do just that. We’ve planned a program we hope Christians of all traditions will feel comfortable joining in—as well as those of other religions and no religion at all. This is as much about human dignity as it is about faith.”
“I am honored to be a part of this service. It is a beautiful idea, as so many are grieving without the usual rituals and gatherings,” said Rev. Dr. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. “Our prayer is that this service will minister to individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole. Together, as the body of Christ, we will begin to meet some of this deeply felt need.”
A Time to Mourn: An Ecumenical Memorial Service for Lives Lost to COVID19 Sunday, May 24, 6:00 PM ET, on YouTube and Facebook Live. Register for the event by visiting http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us Add names to the list of those who have died from COVID19, by clicking here. For more information or interviews with participants of the Ecumenical Memorial Service, please contact: Rev. Steven D. Martin, 202-412-4323 or email@example.com
Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 40 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity. NCC News contact: Steven D. Martin: 202.412.4323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will offer a brief sermon for a virtual memorial service for the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by the National Council of Churches on May 24 at 6 p.m. Eastern time.
Over 325,000 people worldwide have died of COVID-19, including more than 92,000 in the United States. The NCC noted in a press release announcing the memorial service that “the nation has not had a public moment of collective grief to acknowledge and mourn the impact of losing so many lives in such a short period of time.”
“Every life deserves to be remembered and properly acknowledged in the most meaningful way possible,” said Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches. “Religious ritual is an incomparable way to do just that. We’ve planned a program we hope Christians of all traditions will feel comfortable joining in — as well as those of other religions and no religion at all. This is as much about human dignity as it is about faith.”
Titled “A Time To Mourn” (a reference to Ecclesiastes 3), the service will include reflections of “lament, comfort, encouragement, and hope” from Curry and other leaders from NCC member churches, as well as music and Scripture readings.
The NCC – an alliance of Christian denominations in America, including The Episcopal Church – invites all to participate in the “time of remembering, mourning and celebrating the lives of loved ones.” Those who would like to include the names of loved ones who have died during the pandemic can submit them here.
– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.