The Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group thanks the city’s Faith Communities for their work during the Coronavirus Pandemic and offers encouragement for the future

As leaders of the major faith communities of Birmingham, who meet and work together as the Birmingham Faith Leaders' Group, we feel it is time to say thank you to our richly varied and faithful communities throughout this city.

2020 has been the most difficult of years, and for many it has contained tragedy, loss and frustration. Back in January, none of us could have imagined that our lives, both as individuals and families, and as whole communities would be so changed by the impact of Coronavirus.

Now, as we face potential new limitations on our lives in what is likely to be a difficult winter, it is time to call all people of faith to a further period of determination and sacrifice over the next few months.

Although we have all had to close our buildings and alter our worship practices in ways which would previously have rendered them unrecognisable, we have been deeply impressed by the resilience and faithfulness of our local communities across the city. We know, from the connections we have throughout the public services, that your determination to act responsibly in the interests of the whole of society, has been seen and greatly appreciated.

Faith communities have been among the most diligent in observing all the recommendations and practices required by government, local government, health authorities, police and other official bodies. This has meant that it has not been possible to mark many of the most significant religious festivals this year. However, it is your scrupulous observing of requirements which gave public bodies the confidence to allow places of worship to be among the first to reopen following the first national lockdown. Places of worship are now seen as places of relative safety.

So, we say thank you for helping to maintain the highest standards.

Now, we need to encourage everyone to continue the struggle against the virus as we enter the even more difficult period of autumn and winter. We all need to resist a tendency towards complacency, refusing to allow scrupulous standards of cleanliness and safety to fall away.

As people of faith we also need to be among those who seek to encourage and sustain others. We recognise and applaud the magnificent efforts of so many of our faith communities to support those in greatest need, through work such as food banks, soup kitchens, support for families and for the isolated elderly, among many other initiatives. Looking ahead, we want to continue to encourage all our faith communities to be conscious of those in the wider community who are struggling through loneliness, financial difficulty, illness or bereavement. Let us continue to be in the forefront of maintaining a caring society in which all are valued and all nurtured.

In the complexity of ever-changing regulations we are all encouraged to remain aware of what is required of us by law, here in Birmingham, by checking on the Birmingham City Council website

For those in areas outside Birmingham, please go to your local authority website.

The Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group was formed in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in September 2001, when there began to be attacks on some religious premises and worshippers. The principal leaders of Birmingham’s six major faith communities began to meet on a regular basis, to build trust and understanding. Almost twenty years later leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist communities still meet on a regular basis to foster good relationships.