A pastoral letter from the NSW Ecumenical Council on the COVID-19 crisis

20 August 2021
Representatives from the member churches of the NSW Ecumenical Council during a prayer service in St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Supplied


NSW Ecumenical Council

Pastoral Letter

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

16 August 2021


Dear friends,

We write to you at a precarious moment as the virus spreads more quickly and broadly throughout NSW and the ACT. Indeed, it is a moment when our country and the world are in the grip of a public health emergency that has the potential to sap the health, vitality and economic vibrancy of Australia and the world.

At such a time, we write to you on behalf of the NSW Ecumenical Council to assure you and your people of our prayer support as you minister and care for each other and for local communities throughout NSW and the ACT. We share the pain experienced by your people, who are sick and struggle with the virus. We pray with hope that God’s love, mercy and peace will uphold and strengthen you and those who struggle for healing.

We write also to say how greatly encouraged we are to hear of local churches serving their communities in many ways. A number have opened their churches and/or halls as places where people can be vaccinated. Many have shown great kindness and compassion to people in need due to the pandemic. Such acts not only assist the broader community in very practical ways, they also give tangible endorsement to our words emphasising the necessity of vaccination for the well-being and protection of all.

Such endorsement is of paramount importance at this time. It is of deep concern to us that misinformation on social media is misleading too many in our communities. It needs to be countered. As faith leaders and communities, we can do a great deal to guide, reassure and comfort those in need, encouraging people to listen carefully to reliable public health advice and to follow it by being vaccinated and taking other responsible measures, such as social distancing and lockdown restrictions, to limit the effects of this pandemic. These are the means by which this emergency can be met responsibly.

The human population has embraced vaccination in the past as being critical for survival, as it is now. We have faced many diseases which have required vaccination, including polio, smallpox, measles and others. God has gifted doctors and medical scientists with the intelligence and creativity to develop these so that quality of life for all is a reality. Again, we have witnessed this in the amazing development of vaccines in the past twelve months.

However, it is tragic that, to date, the world has not shared vaccines equitably. As faith leaders, we can call on our government to ensure that Australia plays its part in international distribution of vaccines that is fair and values each life. Vaccination is also necessary across the world in order to prevent mutation of the virus.

There is much that each of us can do in our communities to ensure that we are equipping ourselves well to meet this challenge.

We pray that we all may be guided by Christ’s light and so help light the way for others, that Christians may be a blessing to our communities at this challenging time.

Blessings and good wishes to you all.

Rev’d Dr Ray Williamson OAM
NSW Ecumenical Council

Wies Schuiringa
Vice President
NSW Ecumenical Council

Rev’d Dr James Collins OAM
Vice President
NSW Ecumenical Council


Member Churches:

  • Anglican Church (NSW Dioceses)
  • Antiochian Orthodox Church
  • Armenian Apostolic Church
  • Assyrian Church of the East
  • Bruderhof Australia
  • Church of South India
  • Congregational Federation of NSW
  • Coptic Orthodox Church
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church
  • Greek Orthodox Church
  • Indian Orthodox Church
  • Lutheran Church of Australia (NSW District)
  • Mar Thoma Church
  • Religious Society of Friends
  • Roman Catholic Church (Dioceses of Bathurst, Parramatta and Wagga Wagga)
  • Syrian Orthodox Church
  • The Salvation Army
  • Uniting Church (NSW/ACT Synod)

Associated with the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)


With thanks to the NSW Ecumenical Council.


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