Hundreds of thousands of followers of Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths in Redbridge finding new ways to worship during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 April 2020

Followers across the borough are finding new ways to worship their faiths during coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA/Andrew Milligan

Followers across the borough are finding new ways to worship their faiths during coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA/Andrew Milligan

PA Wire/PA Images

Hundreds of thousands of followers of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths in Redbridge will be finding new ways to worship during the coronavirus lockdown.

With several major religious festivals either under way or fast approaching, many people across the world are getting creative in order to celebrate while in isolation.

Office for National Statistics figures show that Redbridge was home to 120,596 Christians in 2018, the most recent year with available data.

They will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion on Easter Sunday (April 12).

In the lead-up to this, some people fast for Lent, while others give up certain foods. This reflects the biblical account of Jesus fasting for forty days in the wilderness.

On its website, the Church of England says: “While worship in our churches is suspended, our joy in the resurrection is not to be silenced.

“Across the country, churches are finding ways to join in loving and praying for the communities they serve.

“As we are largely confined to our homes and physically separated from one another, we need to find ‘the church within’.”

An Easter Day service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury will be broadcast on Facebook, while more than 1,000 church leaders across the country will also host live streams.

Meanwhile, the National Methodist Choir of Great Britain is holding an online choir on Easter Sunday at 4pm.

The figures also show that there were 84,993 Muslims living in Redbridge in 2018.

The holy month of Ramadan begins on April 23. Muslims fast from dawn until sunset during this time, and would usually then gather with family and friends in the evening for the Iftar meal, when the fast is broken.

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It is a time of spiritual devotion, and one of giving, when people are encouraged to be charitable.

The Muslim Council of Britain has prepared an information “toolkit” to provide advice during the Covid-19 outbreak.

It says: “Many community groups are exploring alternative ways of keeping connected, including live streaming services, community radio stations and hot iftar meal drop-offs to neighbours.”

The document also recommends that people start fasting regularly to prepare themselves for Ramadan.

“Also, maybe it’s a good time to rethink your diet – some staples are now hard to come by, but unsurprisingly, fresh foods (such as fruits and vegetables) seem widely available,” it adds.

The 14,631 members of Redbridge’s Jewish community began celebrating the festival of Passover on Wednesday (April 8), which will last until April 16.

Passover – or Pesach – is a time when Jewish people commemorate Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in ancient Egypt.

Jews celebrate by eating a ceremonial meal called the Seder, reading the story of their ancestors’ exodus, and praying.

The Movement for Reform Judaism has posted an online version of the Haggadah – the text that recounts the Jewish liberation from slavery – on its website.

It has also written guidelines for people who want to use the video conferencing service Zoom for virtual religious services.

Its website says: “We are alongside all of our communities throughout this difficult and unprecedented time.”

There were an estimated 32.2 million Christians across Britain in 2018, according to the ONS data.

This was followed by 3.4 million Muslims, 953,000 Hindus and 311,000 Jews. Around 25 million people were recorded as having no religion.

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