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EASTER & COVID-19 The international community of the holy sepulchre's APRIL 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Around the world, Easter 2020 felt very different. With many of us separated from loved ones and places of worship, we caught up with loved ones and watched Easter services online. While many churches in Jerusalem similarly streamed their Easter services and liturgies, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this Easter was strongly felt in the city of resurrection.

With Holy Land nations remain in various forms of lockdown, pilgrimage has come to a complete halt. As covered in this National Geographic article, the usually-packed Holy Sepulchre had only a few priests for the Service of Holy Fire this year. Before stepping into an empty Holy Sepulchre to mark Easter, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzabella of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, said, “Easter is a time for life. Despite the sign of death we are seeing everywhere, life will prevail, as long as someone is giving life out of love for the others. Happy Easter!”

Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land observe social distancing during Easter services in the Holy Sepulchre

The livelihoods of many Christian families depend on serving pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. As shops are closed and restaurants and hotels remain empty, many Christian families are facing particular economic hardship. This issue will persist beyond the easing of lockdown measures. It will likely be many months before groups of pilgrims return to the Holy Land in their former numbers, meaning that these families have a long and hard road ahead of them.

The situation threatens long-term damage to the parts of the Holy Land’s economy that most benefit Christians. In the face of these crises, ICoHS is committed to communicating the life and love that God offers the world to our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land, which is why we have set up the Hope for the Holy Land Campaign. By working with the churches and local banks to identify families to support, we are positioned to provide direct relief to those Christian families and small businesses that need it the most. You can read more about the campaign in the hyperlink above. Please consider donating to this campaign, which will give hope to many families in the Holy Land.

For months now, we have brought you Prayers from the Holy Land, featuring several individuals from the Holy Land and ICoHS. In light of the current pandemic, we will be featuring new videos with local Christians who have impacted by the crisis. These will begin next week.

For our friends in the UK (or early risers in America), we have partnered with our friends at St Philip’s Centre, Leicester, to host a session on COVID-19 and its impact on Christians in Jerusalem. It will run on Tuesday, May 5th at 10am BST. If you are interested in joining the free event, please email onlinecourses@stphilipscentre.co.uk.

To stay up to date with the issues in the Holy Land, please visit the “In the News" section of our website. Additionally, past newsletters can now be found on our website.

The International Community of the Holy Sepulchre helps the Churches in the Holy Land raise international awareness of the challenges that Christians face in the region while promoting the flourishing of all people in the Middle East. To learn more, visit us at www.icohs.org.