This week America surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. Many of those who died had to do so without the presence of family and loved ones. The deaths have been disproportionate in age, race and economic status.

As we mark this grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths in America and more than 350,000 worldwide, faith leaders from across our country are asking churches to spend some time during our worship services this weekend to pray, lament, mourn and to invite God’s healing on our land. We have also been invited to set aside Monday, June 1, as a National Day of Mourning and Lament. This week we also witnessed what appears to be the unnecessary death of another black man at the hands of white police officers. My hope is that each of us, as individuals and congregations, will spend time this weekend in prayer for those who have lost their lives, families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and for God’s healing on our nation and the world.

Dick Barrett
Conference Minister

Prayer of Lament from Faith Leaders from across the United States

We ask God to help heal our land with a moment of mourning and honoring those many who have died, often without their loved ones around them. We come together both to weep and to rejoice for those lives which have been lost. We shall mourn the loss of so many Americans, many known only to families and friends, coworkers and neighbors. We will mourn family members and friends whom we loved; worked and worshiped with; ate, played, and prayed with; important members of our communities, some who were on the front lines of caring for and serving others; and those we passed on the street with a smile and nod. By God’s grace, we will mourn with families who have not been able to memorialize, mourn, or properly bury their COVID dead.

Our lament will also honor hard truths we have learned during this pandemic: Our suffering has been unequal, elders have been vulnerable and alone, black and brown neighbors have borne disproportionately both the brunt of sickness and death and the front lines labor of fighting this disease. Native communities, our land’s original caretakers, have been particularly hard hit — as they have been so many times in the past. Asian Americans have been targeted by hateful words and actions. Our prayers for the healing of the nation must acknowledge the brokenness of our democracy and rededicate ourselves to repair the injustices this pandemic has revealed, even as we work for the healing of those who are afflicted with the virus.

… This momentous and tragic 100,000 marker will not be an empty data point on death’s grim graph; rather we will remember those whom we loved and pray for both healing and hope — for our nation and the world. As a people we have borne this pandemic’s cost in the lives of our loved ones; as a nation we shall honor and mourn them together.