Photo Credit: Buckingham Palace
[ACNS, by Staff Writer] In her first ever Easter Message, Queen Elizabeth II asserted that “Easter isn’t cancelled.” Queen Elizabeth famously produces a Christmas message each year in which she has been open about her Christian faith; but she has not delivered an Easter message until this year. In her message, released on social media on Saturday (11 April), the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, said: “the discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this.
“We know that Coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
Her message was released shortly before the Anglican Communion Office’s first ever digital Easter Day service was “premiered” on YouTube and Facebook. It is the third video released by the Anglican Communion Office since the global shut-down. The first one, for passion Sunday, was watched 2,825 times just over two weeks; the second, for Palm Sunday, has been watched 5,664 times in just over a week. As of this morning (Tuesday), the Easter Day service has surpassed both of these combined, having been watched by 13,500 people.
The communications team of the Anglican Communion Office are planning additional weekly services – which feature contributions from around the globe – until the end of the global shutdown. They can be watched at anglicancommunion.org/worship.
This Easter also saw the first ever international social media campaign to be co-ordinated by the Anglican Communion Office. Messages from around the world were broadcast on Twitter at 5am in the local time zone using the hashtag #GlobalSonRise. It began with Easter greetings from children in a Sunday School in the Solomon Islands in the Anglican Church of Melanesia to children in Anglican Sunday Schools around the world, and concluded with a message from the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of New Westminster.
Churches around the world have put on digital worship services to provide a way for the faithful to come together despite the lockdown.
The Church of England broadcast a service featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recorded in his kitchen at Lambeth Palace. It was broadcast in audio form across a number of BBC Radio Stations in the UK before being made available in video form by the Church of England’s digital communications team. It is one of more than 3,000 services put together in the Church of England.
The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, read the Gospel passage in a recoding made at his home at Birkhall, in Scotland, for a service broadcast by Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion.
In a sign that many people are turning towards the Church for support, churches around the world are reporting that more people are taking part in their digital services than attended their usual Sunday services prior to the lockdown.
Between 500 and 600 people usually attend the Sunday services at the Church of St Paul’s and St George’s in Edinburgh, known as P’s and G’s – its predominantly young membership numbers around 1,000. Yet it has seen this congregation quadruple for its service on Mothering Sunday and they have continued to grow. As of this morning, more than 5,600 people have taken part in its digital Easter service.
But despite the technological advances, many are looking forward to the day when the Church can, once again, meet in person. “I can’t wait for the day when on that Sunday I can walk back into my church and see family, loved ones, and friends, for the first time”, the Church of England’s Head of Digital, Adrian Harris, told the BBC’s Click programme. “I feel slightly emotional about that.”
Watch a composite video showing the messages posted by Anglicans for the #GlobalSonRise social media campaign.