The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that Christians have been "people of hope" during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a joint address with the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell during a special one-day sitting of Synod in London, Welby said that the church will be forever changed by the crisis, but will emerge stronger as a result.
“We do not know what kind of Church of England will emerge from this time except that it will be different,” Welby said. “It will be changed by the reality that for the first time all churches have closed - first time in 800 years. It will be changed because for the first time we have worshipped virtually.”
He added: “Out of these times we will see renewal - not because we are clever but because God is faithful.
“We will see a renewed and changed Church emerging from the shocks of lockdown.
“It is a Church that at the most local has fed so many, been in touch with the isolated through the heroic efforts of all who take part in it, of clergy and laity and those who even weren’t near the church before these times.
“It is a Church which has continued to pray and to offer worship through our Lord Jesus Christ, even if in new and unusual ways.”
Speaking with a heightened sense of emotion, Cottrell said simply, "I hate this Coronavirus."
II hate it not only because so many people have died, but because so many people have died alone, unable to hold the hand of their beloved," he added.
“I hate it because our health service has been stretched to the limit. I hate it because so many are bereaved and could not even sit next to a family member at a funeral or embrace each other.
“I hate it because weddings and baptisms and ordinations have been postponed or have gone ahead without the parties that were meant to be with them.
“I hate it because children’s schooling has been disrupted. I hate it because so many people are so ill, so many crying out in pain, so many isolated, lonely, fearful, depressed.
“I hate it because behind locked doors terrible things have happened. I hate it because the poor and the disadvantaged have been hit the hardest.
“I hate it because it has left so many people across the world feeling hopeless as if life itself has been taken from us.”
Cottrell also praised God for the faithfulness of all who have served others during the crisis.
He said: “I am thankful that despite all the horrors of a Covid world we are learning a new commitment to Christ and how to be a humbler, simpler, church and we are putting Christ at the centre of our lives and learning very, very, very painfully what it really means to be a church that is dependent on Christ alone.
“And I am filled for longing: I long for us to be a more Christ-centered and Jesus-shaped church witnessing to Christ and bringing the healing balm of the Gospel to our nation for this is our vocation.”