After 100,000 COVID-19 Deaths in U.S., Interfaith Leaders, Mayors Call for Day of Mourning and Lament

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WASHINGTON, DC—As we mark the death of 100,000 people in the U.S. from COVID-19, an unprecedented group of 100+ national faith leaders—from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions representing major denominations, national faith-based organizations, local congregations, and millions of people of faith across the country—call for a National Day of Mourning and Lament. Together, they look to federal, state, and local elected officials to observe Monday, June 1 as National Day of Mourning and Lament, a day marked by moments of silence, lowering of flags, interfaith vigils, ringing of bells, and civic memorials.

This call is being supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors who represent over 1,400 mayors across the country. Mayors lead on the frontline of the COVID-19 response effort and continue to model critical local leadership amid this difficult time. 

Together, interfaith leaders and mayors across the nation will call us to mourn, lament, and honor the dead, acknowledge the unequal nature of our suffering, pray together for the healing of the nation, and recommit to the difficult work ahead.

“It is always and everywhere the vocation of religion to remember the dead and mourn their passing. As the great American poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, ‘I hear things crying in the world.’ We too, as a church, ‘here things crying’ and step forward as people of faith in time of need,” said a key organizer and Sojourners senior editor Rose Marie Berger. “Prophetic lament is a tradition breaks open imaginations numbed by grief and fear. As a nation, we raise our lament to the highest offices in the land and, more importantly, beyond to storm the gates of heaven.”

“One hundred thousand people, citizens, friends, and family dead is a terrible marker we must not miss or pass by quickly or easily. We must stop. We must weep. We must mourn. We must honor. And we must lament which is to feel and bear great grief and sorrow, and to reflect upon it,” said president and founder Rev. Jim Wallis“To pray for the healing of the nation is to go even deeper than our horrible sickness; we must also see the national brokenness and signs of hope the virus continues to reveal. Our suffering has been painfully and racially disproportionate, but our healing must be in unison.”

“As a nation we can’t afford to be numbed or desensitized by this staggering milestone. Every one of the over 100,000 lives in the U.S. lost to COVID-19 is precious and sacred.  While the need for social distancing has precluded funerals and other traditional forms of mourning, we can and must find ways to grieve and lament together as a nation,” said executive director Rev. Adam Taylor. “These tragic deaths include so many heroic frontline and essential workers who risked their lives to heal, protect, and serve others.”

The National Day of Mourning and Lament will follow a weekend of services from Muslim, Jewish and Christian houses of worship—including Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American—all united in times of lament and mourning for the dead. Remembering will unite across lines of religion and traditions and transcend our politics.  

For more information, visit Sojourners at sojo.net.

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