October 1, 2020

23 States Declare October A “Month of Mourning”

National networks of faith leaders are announcing that October will be  a national “Month of Mourning,” and urge houses of worship to hold vigils to mourn, grieve and lament the loss of life and wellbeing caused by the global pandemic.

The network of 23 State Ecumenical Executives and the Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee of the National Council of Churches in the USA is issuing the call for vigils of mourning. Their ministries reach communities in every state.  The two groups represent a sizable proportion of faith organizations committed to working together to serve society at the state and local levels. They invite other faith groups to co-sponsor the effort. A partial listing of faith organizations can be found at

Rev. Brenda Kneece, Executive Minister, South Carolina Christian Action Council, says, “It’s easier to be mad or scared than it is to be sad. But being mad won’t lead to healing. Only mourning can put our country back together.”

The faith leaders encourage local leaders to participate in the Mourning into Unity Project, which will hold two national vigils on October 12 and 19 across the country. The project also provides an interfaith toolkit for local vigils making it easy to host a vigil. See

“As a nation, we failed to contain the spread of the coronavirus like other nations did. Many of our family members did not need to die, and we grieve. Faith rituals have power to express this grief and begin the healing process. We can experience a new national unity and avoid falling into violence,” says Rev. Dr. Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director of the Florida Council of Churches.

The number of deaths attributed to COIVD-19 will surpass 250,000 before the end of October. Nearly seven million persons have fallen ill from the disease, and many are enduring long-term side-effects. Tens of millions have lost their jobs.  Particularly ravaged are vulnerable communities of black and brown Americans because they make up a great many of the essential frontline workforce.  Their families often lack the resources to implement safe distancing protocols.

“I pray that our shared mourning in the ‘nights’ ahead will produce a unity among us that will be a light for everyone, through faith, to see the ‘morning’ joy that is promised by God”, says Rev. James T. Golden, Esq., pastor, Mt. Zion AME Church, Port Tampa FL.

Rev. Meyer added, “We are all hurting, from lost jobs to a burning earth, from rising violence to growing authoritarianism. Fear is all around us. But if we can come together to lament and mourn, we can heal together.” Rev. Meyer coordinates communications for the State Ecumenical Executives network and chairs the Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee of the National Council of Churches in the USA.