The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell’s fears, outlined with great eloquence in the House of Lords, are also the precursor to a series of vigils, and events, being held by the Church of England to help parishioners demonstrate their solidarity with Ukraine.
And, to those who might belittle the CoE at this time, they might well reflect on the transformation that is taking place in parishes across Yorkshire – including Ainsty to the west of York – since the Covid pandemic.
For, by adapting so adeptly to lockdown and combining traditional church services with online prayer sessions, Ainsty has seen its congregation grow by around by 20 per cent – an increase that many businesses would welcome – and has seen its inspiring example praised by, amongst others, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
After all, resisting societal change is invariably futile and the CoE’s enlightened approach to Covid’s wider legacy merits respect. Its senior archbishops know, from decades of pastoral work, that the Church is at its strongest, and most effective, when it has the support of local parishoners and also people of differing religions.
But they also appreciate that an online presence can help sustain the faith of those unable to attend church – or people in strife-torn countries, like Ukraine, who will draw some comfort from the prayers, and support, of the wider world as they face their darkest hour.
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