16 March 2020
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
At these most challenging times in the United Kingdom and around the world, I join you with my prayers and ask our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to protect and guide us spiritually as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with the policies and guidance of the British Government regarding COVID19 and the spiritual directives of His Holiness KAREKIN II, the Armenian Church in the United Kingdom is instituting cautionary measures with a view to protect members of our communities until Maundy Thursday, April 9th:
1. Sunday Divine Liturgies (Badarak) will be celebrated by the parish priests without the participation of the faithful at St. Sarkis and St. Yeghiche Churches.
2. The Sunday Divine Liturgy will be live broadcast on social media for the faithful to follow the service from their homes (https://www.facebook.com/ArmenianChurchoftheUKandIreland/)
3. All liturgical and non-liturgical activities that were to be held during weekdays are cancelled.
4. The faithful are asked to contact their respective parishes to reschedule all baptisms and weddings.
5. Those in need of spiritual care and counselling should contact the Primate’s Office for appropriate arrangements.
6. An emergency committee is being established, which will bring together the efforts of the Church and several community organisations, such as ACC UK to help the elderly and those in need in the community.
On the Fourth Sunday of Great last week, we offered special prayers for our community, especially for those afflicted with COVID-19. The theme of the day was the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16.1-13), which is relevant to our reality today. The parable is about spiritual urgency and preparedness. I urge you to read the passage in the Gospel of Luke for some reflection and introspection.
In the coming weeks and months, as we all face the challenges ahead, I wish to reiterate that the church is here for you. All of us have a responsibility to address this calamity. We are all called to be vigilant, responsible and seek God’s merciful protection through prayers. This epidemic crisis is also a time for all of us to focus on our spiritual life as well. Our ultimate strength comes from Almighty God. Let us be courageous to practice *minimalism* in life. Let us not stay away from prayers. “Keep praying and carry on”
May the Lord’s abundant blessings be with you,
Bishop Hovakim Primate