The Diocesan Bishop for The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) has encouraged people across the County to take some time on March 23 to join in with the National Day of Reflection.
Many parishes and schools across the Diocese will be marking the day in different ways; whilst Blackburn Cathedral (Lancashire’s Anglican Cathedral) will be lighting more than 4000 candles in commemoration of all the lives lost in the County to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The Marie Curie charity has organised the Day of Reflection and The Church of England nationally is one of several organisations supporting the day.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said: “I encourage people of all ages in Lancashire to participate in this National Day of Reflection. It will be a sombre moment for all of us as we take the opportunity to prayerfully reflect on the past year and the many losses we’ve suffered as a result of the pandemic.
“Many of our fellow citizens have been unable to grieve in the way they would expect to for precious loved ones who have died. Whilst we must give thanks and praise to God for signs of hope with the rollout of the vaccination programme, it is important to acknowledge how difficult this past 12 months has been for everyone.
“That’s why we have encouraged people in parishes across Lancashire to keep the minute's silence and mark this occasion in other ways, particularly in prayer and worship on the day.
“Do join us in that prayer and silence. If you are not able to break for a minute at the allotted time, why not take a moment later in the day to reflect?”
Bishop Julian added: “As well as grief and pain from losing loved ones, many in our communities have lost their businesses; they may have lost their jobs or could be struggling with loneliness and the effects of isolation; all of which can affect people’s mental health too.
“So, on the Day of Reflection but at other times too I also want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to take time to connect with someone they know who may be finding life particularly hard just now.
“In my experience the people of Lancashire are some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world. Let’s continue to support each other as we emerge from the lockdown and, with God’s help, we begin to put the worst of the pandemic behind us.”
On the Day of Reflection more than 4000 candles will also be lit in Blackburn Cathedral. Other Cathedrals across the country are marking the event in similar ways.
The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev Peter Howell Jones will lead one minute’s silence at the Cathedral at noon, which will be followed by the tolling of the Cathedral bell. The Dean will be joined in the candle lighting by members of the local community, including civic and public health leaders.
The Dean said: “Almost every person has been affected in one way or another during the last 12 months and we cannot, and must not, underestimate the human impact of the pandemic across our nation. As a place of faith we have to recognise that and look at ways to help and support our communities as we move slowly out of lockdown towards recovery."