The Dioceses within the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East are fundraising to supporting those impacted by the COVID19 pandemic in their diocese.
Many in their communities have lost their income due to the lack of tourism and pilgrimages along with those on daily wages such as labourers who are now unemployed. In addition, the call on the diocesan refugee ministries has increased due to the restrictions and government policy. In all three dioceses they are reaching out to the poor and sick in their communities through food parcels/meals programmes and providing spiritual support and encouragement.
Donations will be split equally across the three dioceses in support of the local COVID19 appeals that they are all running. More details on the situation and needs in each of the dioceses are given below.
Diocese of Jerusalem:
The closing of Bethlehem and the government's policy of a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from a country where COVID-19 has been reported has significantly impacted the pilgrimage economy.
"The dwindling number of pilgrims has already placed a huge burden on poorer families. This is especially the case for those living in the Bethlehem area, whose economy is largely dependent upon the pilgrim ministry, which has ground to a halt;"
Archbishop Suheil Dawani
As the Diocese of Jerusalem has already received many requests from families in need of support due to lost income they have set up a special relief fund for those impacted by the crisis in order to be able to support those most impacted in their community.
The Heads of the churches in Jerusalem wrote a joint Easter Message (available for downloading below) as the churches stood empty of pilgrims and worshippers. In it they proclaimed the resurrection of Christ and called on the world to pray for and support each other.
"However, our present responsibility as people of faith and goodwill is to offer consolation for those who grieve, restoration and healing to those are sick, and assistance to those who are in need. The Easter message this year coming from Jerusalem, is a reminder of the Resurrection itself: “He is not here, but is risen!” Our mission as Christians and as human beings is to support each other and to continue to pray for all people during this pandemic!"
Diocese of Egypt:
Most of the country is locked down in an attempt to stop the spread of the Covid 19 virus but we thank God that currently the spread in Egypt is better than many countries. However, the situation is a disaster for the 5.6 million labourers in Egypt who earn their living on daily basis. The unemployment rate has also increased as so many have lost their jobs due to this pandemic.
"We in the diocese believe that we have a role to play in a time like this, so we try to help and support those who suffer because of this lock down."
Bishop Mouneer Anis
The diocese has contributed to the Disaster Fund set up by the government to support those who are affected by this pandemic and is involved in a variety of different initiatives to support the unemployed in their communities. Some of these initiatives are:
- Food Banks: the diocese has made donations and the young people involved in the “together we develop Egypt” initiative have volunteered to work many hours preparing food parcels
- Healthcare: the doctors and nurses at the Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf and Sadat City have been provided with masks, gowns and sanitizers so they can continue to open their doors widely for patients as usual.
- Education: the staff in the diocesan run schools are providing e-learning for their students whilst the schools are closed
- Spiritual support: with churches across the country closed the Diocesan Media Center has been able to support churches in recording services and sharing short videos of encouragement to church members in English and Arabic and a sign language for the Church of the Deaf
Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf
Christian communities in Cyprus have long been supporting the refugees and asylum seekers and this welcome and support is a lifeline to the displaced people. The COVID-19 outbreak has made things even more difficult for many of the displaced people residing in Cyprus and the Cyprus Refugee Council has reported increasing numbers of asylum seekers being moved out of the hostels into the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre which is basically a refugee camp of tents, with poor living conditions.
As with many countries there are strict Government lockdown restrictions in place which meant residents in Cyprus have to send an SMS before they are able to leave their home, and can only do so once a day for food. Additional travel requires permits from the local authorities.
Within this context the Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf have stepped up the support they provide through their churches in Ayia Napa, Larnaca, Nicosia and Ammochostos to deliver food parcels and meals to those refugees and asylum seekers. Their hope is to extend this to be able to provide more than just food, such as toilet paper and other essential products during this crisis.
As elsewhere across the region there is growing need because of the pandemic amongst Cypriot nationals who are suffering through loss of work and security.
How you can make a donation
Online: The simplest way to make a donations is via the appeal page on CAF Donate
Alternatively you can send via Paypal but please specify in the comments that your donation is for the "Provincial COVID19" and whether you are eligible for Gift Aid.
Bank transfer: Direct to the JMECA account with Coutts bank, sort code 18-00-02, account number 03283534 , please specify in the details that your donation is for the "Provincial COVID19" and let us know by email if you are eligible for Gift Aid
As access to the office may be restricted over the coming months cheques/vouchers may not be processed until later this year
Cheques/CAF vouchers: Make the cheque or charity voucher payable to JMECA and mark it clearly on the reverse for "Provincial COVID19 Appeal". Post it to our office: 1 Hart House, The Hart, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7HJ. Please let us know if we can claim Gift Aid to boost you gift by 25%.