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Millions participate in worldwide fast for COVID-19 relief on Good Friday

Many faiths encourage prayers for coronavirus relief

Roanoke woman starts prayer challenge for Holy Week
Roanoke woman starts prayer challenge for Holy Week

This Good Friday looks very different from years past. Many Good Friday services are being held online only, the traditional Passion Play in San Antonio isn’t taking place this year, and millions of people across the world are abstaining from food and drink and offering prayers focused on the relief of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many faiths fast from food or abstain from eating meat on Good Friday, the suggestion of a global fast on Good Friday was offered last weekend during the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church President Russell M. Nelson urged people to “prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic.”

“I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized,” Nelson said.

Church members typically fast one day each month and make a fast offering to help others in need, but a call for a worldwide fast is rare.

A Facebook group called “Worldwide Fast April 10” had nearly a half-million members as of Friday morning with messages from people of many faiths across the world.

The President of the National Association of Evangelicals joined the effort, calling for a day of prayer and fasting in a message online.

The Vatican has also asked priests around the world to recite a new prayer during the Good Friday liturgy titled, “For the afflicted in time of pandemic.”

Here in San Antonio, the president/CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank encouraged a Good Friday fast as a way to help people in the community who are facing hunger on a daily basis. Eric Cooper called upon leaders in the faith community to fast on Friday and encouraged people to make a “fast offering” to the Food Bank equal to the value of the meals skipped.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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