VALLEY FORGE, PA (5/29/20)—As the United States passes the mark of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) calls on American Baptists to mark the grim milestone on Monday, June 1, at noon, local time, as part of a National Day of Mourning and Lament, joining people of faith together in a day of remembrance and prayer for the healing of our nation.
This opportunity to share grief and loss has been created by a group of 100-plus faith leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, representing major denominations, national faith-based organizations, local congregations and millions of people of faith across the country. Federal, state and local elected officials have been asked to mark the day with moments of silence, lowering of flags, interfaith vigils, ringing of bells and civic memorials.
“Our nation has been severely impacted by COVID-19 on multiple fronts, and the severest impact has been the massive loss of life in the United States and Puerto Rico in the past three months,” says ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray.
“We feel so powerless to change this. But what we can and must do as human beings, and as people of faith, is collectively mark this loss with remembrance and mourning,” says Haggray. “I call upon all friends and Passionaries associated with American Baptist Home Mission Societies to pause Monday, June 1, at noon for a time of mourning, lament, reflection and prayer for all those who have died and those who have suffered the loss of family and loved ones during this pandemic.”
To mark the pandemic’s toll on American Baptist Churches USA, ABHMS is creating a “memorial wall” at abhms.org to collect names of American Baptists lost to this deadly virus. Use the submission form to share names; the alphabetically organized memorial page will be updated weekly on Tuesday and Friday.
The past three months have been some of the deadliest in U.S. history: Americans have endured more deaths than the numbers of those who died in many of our wars. With the death toll now at 100,000, COVID-19 becomes the fifth most deadly event in U.S. history. The number of deceased equals the populations of whole towns and cities.
The disease’s rapid spread, the scope of its impact and its mitigation through “social distancing” has prevented time or space for grieving. It has been impossible to bury our dead as people have for thousands of years—communally and intimately with friends, family and neighbors. Both as individuals and, collectively as a nation, we need time to stop, reflect, pray, mourn and honor the dead.
To meet this need, religious communities across faiths are acting with unprecedented unity. People of faith and others of good will gather together to mourn, memorialize and remember their lives both in our diverse faith traditions and in our public squares. And together, we will pray for the healing of our nation.
“Let us also resolve,” Haggray says, “to work toward a healthier and just society for people of all walks of life and all identities, so that the harm caused by disease is reduced for all people.”
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s m