Chicago, April 1, 2020
Last week, Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America of the Patriarchate of Constantinople led an ecumenical prayer service with the Catholic Cardinal and Evangelical Lutheran bishop of Chicago.
Previously, on March 14, he issued a directive ordering the immediate suspension of “all liturgical services in parishes of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago.”
Met. Nathanael was the first Orthodox hierarch in America to make such a strong decision, which he announced days before the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople made the same decision for all its dioceses worldwide.
“Services may be celebrated in parishes, but will NOT be open to the congregations to attend in person. The church building will remain locked during services;” “The faithful are NOT permitted to attend services and they must remain home,” Met. Nathanael directed on March 22.
Three days later, on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, video of an ecumenical prayer service recorded in a Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Chicago was published.
“As people are asked to partake in social distancing, it’s important to find ways to approach one another through prayer,” Met. Nathanel wrote on his Facebook post of the video.
The service was led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Met. Nathanael, and Bishop Yehiel Curry of the Evangelical Lutheran Metropolitan Chicago Synod who all stood behind the Catholic altar table, with Bishop Jeffrey Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and Bishop Sally Dyck of Chicago for the United Methodist Church joining in online.
“Christians cannot gather as we normally would do so in our churches for prayer and support. And so today, we want to reach out to all Christians with the invitation to pause at this time and in unison pray for every person touched by this pandemic,” Cardinal Cupich said, opening the service before giving the floor to Met. Nathanel, who reflected:
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, Christ is in our midst. As we continue our effort to reduce the effects of the coronavirus on society, it is important now more than ever to recognize that there is far more that unites us than divides us. Indeed the sacrifices made by first responders and doctors, the care and comfort offered by nurses and clergy, and the acts of love and mercy each of us is making for our neighbor, teaches us that although social distancing may separate us for just a short while, we remain strongly united as a local, national, and global Christian family. May God bless you and your loved ones.
The Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Curry then spoke, saying: “I’m grateful for this opportunity to come together in unity for prayer. We’re all connected in the Body of Christ…. We are one Body with many members.”
Then the three bishops all prayed the Lord’s together in unison.
Following the Our Father, Cardinal Cupich emphasized: “We are not in this alone. Being a Christian is being part of a community of faith, being a part of one Body.”
The three bishops then jointly offered a blessing, reciting the words of Holy Scripture.
Watch the entire service: