A petition launched by evangelist David Hathaway calls on the Prime Minister to hold a national day of prayer in response to the pandemic. For details, see David said, ‘Historically, only prayer has delivered this nation in a time of crisis, as seen both in WW1 in 1918 and even more so in WW2. When we have no human answer to the coronavirus which has devastated both health and our economy, we must seek God’s answer.’ The petition’s opening statement asks for churches to be open for prayer and worship without restriction for the day: ‘We ask you to remember and recognise the strong Christian heritage of this nation and the power of prayer, which is greater than any other power on earth.’ A separate petition, launched by Susan Hawkes in March and also calling for a national day of prayer, has received over 65,600 signatures.
As schools across the UK reopen, teachers could face an influx of children facing an emotional and mental health crisis. Pray for teachers, parents, churches, and agencies who will be working to alleviate an expected emotional health crisis. Pray for the teachers, who will already be aware of the specific challenges that their community faces. May God anoint each one as they draw on their skills to provide emotional and academic guidance. Some children may not have held a pen or got up at 7am since March; consequently different pupils in the same class will have had different experiences of the lockdown period. They will also have varying levels of coping skills and resilience in dealing with those experiences. Teachers attempting to help these children may feel overwhelmed themselves. Pray that they are wisely supported by outside agencies and community groups. Pray for children displaying challenging behaviour to receive appropriate extra mental health support.
Most crops will get harvested. But yields are low, and many farmers will feel they have ‘sown much, but reaped little’ (Haggai 1:6). Yet, given the weather conditions earlier this year, farmers are glad to have a crop at all, while many fruit trees have yielded well. Give thanks for this sign of the Lord’s continuing mercy and faithfulness. Pray for better conditions this autumn and next spring, so that crops can make a good start and yield well next year. Pray for farmers to recognise their dependence on the One who causes the crops to grow (Psalm 104:14 and 64:9-13) and reach out to seek and know Him as their Saviour and Lord. The Agriculture Bill will continue its progress towards royal assent. Pray for the Government, the NFU, and for all involved in shaping the future of farming and food production (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Data from the Bank of England released on 1 September show an increase in mortgage and household borrowing. StepChange debt charity says this may point to the financial pressures many households face, which will crystallise into serious debt problems when unemployment support and payment holidays end. Since May, StepChange has published a monthly breakdown of trends to understand how the pandemic is affecting household debt, and to focus on the best ways of helping people. In July it gave advice to 14,000 clients, but this number is artificially suppressed by government support mechanisms still in place. However, a notable feature in July is the trend toward greater unemployment worries. Not only has the proportion of unemployed clients increased, but searches about redundancy on the charity's website saw a massive 1,800% increase in July compared with June. StepChange said, ‘It’s absolutely vital that we see ongoing support to help people get through the next period, whether they are in employment or not, if we are to avoid entrenching problem debt as a long-term legacy of the pandemic.’
Dr Rowan Williams joined with Extinction Rebellion for their 'September Uprising' climate change protests. The march resulted in the arrest of several Christians including Friar Martin Newell. Dr Williams said, ‘People of faith should be here because they can make a difference. We are at a moment of opportunity. People are talking about building back better., not just recovering what’s been lost but building again something that is genuinely more sustainable. Recently we have seen alternatives that might work and I think people of faith ought to be on board with making those alternatives work, taking that moment of opportunity.’ Bishops Olivia Graham and Paul Hendricks also joined the Christian Climate Action group. Dr Willams held a banner declaring ‘CREATION CRIES OUT’, and before his arrest Friar Newell said, ‘The Christian faith is not an easy one; we are constantly called to step outside our comfort zone.’
MPs are returning to Westminster with very full inboxes. Coronavirus challenges will be at the forefront of ministers' minds. Jeremy Hunt warned, ‘The situation coming into winter is potentially very perilous’. Pray for the Government to succeed in encouraging a return to something approaching normal while keeping the virus under control. The UK and EU must reach a Brexit agreement by 31 December 2020. But at the end of every round of negotiations, the messages are ‘little progress’ and ‘considerable gaps remain’. Pray for God’s resolution to come to the surface. The furlough programme is winding down, but opposition parties want the scheme to be extended. While furlough was one of the largest schemes, others are also due to come to an end soon, with disagreement between the parties over their ongoing value. Pray for parliament to agree on wise provisions for the 9.6 million who were furloughed.
On 3 September Nicola Sturgeon said there were 101 new positive cases, 53 in the Greater Glasgow area. Also the R number is probably now above one, and could be as high as 1.4. Health officials have found evidence of coronavirus spreading in Glasgow schools, but it is not affecting very young children. Most affected are families and young adults, generally mixed households by gender and mixed age groups. Meanwhile Home Farm care home on Skye had 10 residents die from Covid-19 and it will now be taken into NHS ownership. A reporter asked for more detail on the targeted restrictions brought in for the Glasgow area. The first minister said the outbreak is still ongoing and the Test and Protect work continues. The government will try to give people a fuller picture as it develops; the outbreak is more desperate than they have seen, which requires targeted measures.
Montenegro’s election campaign was dominated by divisions over the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church. There have been months of protests since a law was adopted in December allowing the state to seize religious assets when their historical ownership cannot be proved. Consequently the Church urged people to vote against the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). The DPS secured 35% of votes in a tight and bitterly-contested parliamentary election, its worst result since the country won independence from Serbia. Official results show the pro-Serbian opposition alliance on 32.5%, meaning that it could feasibly form a government if it can reach consensus with Montenegro's other two opposition parties. That would see the DPS lose control of power in the Balkan nation for the first time in 30 years. The leader of the pro-Serbian coalition, Zdravko Krivokapic, told supporters, ‘The regime has fallen’. The majority of Montenegrins are members of the Church, while President Djukanovic and his party are accused of having links to organised crime and running the country as an autocracy.