“Things are not good at all. People are dying due to lack of oxygen and hospital beds. Corridors of hospitals are full. The poor not even getting an ambulance to take their dead to do the last rites. Many are just burning them on roadsides. Scary and terrible times. Please pray for us. Our hope and trust are in the Lord alone. Please convey my regards to all my Derby friends.”
Message from the Church of North India in Delhi.
The Bishop of Repton, the Rt Revd Malcolm Macnaughton, has dedicated a prayer station in Derby Cathedral which will be a focus for prayers for the people of India, who are suffering devastating consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Churches in Derbyshire, including the Diocese of Derby, have strong links with the Church of North India, particularly with Kolkata.
Bishop Malcolm was joined by the Sub-dean of Derby, Canon Elizabeth Thomson, and Revd Anita Matthews, who chairs the partnership between Derbyshire Churches and The Church of North India.
Bishop Malcolm said: “The Diocese of Derby has, for a long time, had strong links with the Church of North India and schools there and it is heartbreaking to hear some of the stories coming from the people and regions we are connected with.
“The problems there at the moment are huge – they are sometimes institutional and structural, but they are also deeply personal. Hearing of people dying and having to be cremated at the roadside is horrific, particularly when India has done so much for other countries in helping to produce vaccines.
“This terrible situation is one that is moving people of all faiths to pray. We pray that God will bring resurrection and hope and life, and freedom from this horrific pandemic very soon.
“And we want people of Indian heritage here in Derby and Derbyshire to know that we stand in solidarity them in prayer for their friends and families in India.”
The Revd Anita Matthews has visited parts of the Diocese of Kolkata on a number of occasions.
She said: “The accounts I have been sent are truly heartbreaking – not least because, although it is affecting the whole of Indian society, it is, as ever, the poorest of the poor who are suffering the most because they can’t afford to access any kind of medical care.
“It is our colleagues in the Church of North India who are trying to reach out to those people to offer some kind of support and hope by providing vaccination programmes and food for families who have lost loved ones and have no income, or because they are in lockdown and cannot work.
“Some of the messages I have received from our long-standing friends and ecumenical partners in India have summed up the desperation there – and yet in the midst of it, they are saying ‘We pray for you in Derby and Derbyshire’ and that they place their faith in God alone. That faith is absolutely extraordinary.”
The prayer stationat Derby Cathedral features messages from people in India and some beautiful Indian cloths, fashioned by Indian artists and craftspeople, depicting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.
Canon Elizabeth Thomson, Sub-dean of Derby said: “We are aware of how important it is to have a place of prayer in the city at this time, and we are aware of how very multicultural the praying life of the people who come into the cathedral is.
"So, in a time when people can feel very cut off and unable to help, we wanted to say that there is a space where you can come to say a prayer and be connected with other people who are doing the same.
“We invite people of all faiths and none to visit and take time to pray in Derby Cathedral for the people of India – not only those who are worst affected, but those who are also helping to give comfort, hope and support.”