On 18 July, prayer services in South Africa will mark Nelson Mandela’s birthday and will also be an opportunity to pray for unity.
The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 has elected to observe the day in both a nationally broadcast prayer service as well as observing 67 minutes of prayer that evening.
In the aftermath of the riots and destruction of property in parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, many people have voiced the need for prayer.
“Our objective in the broadcast of the 18 July prayer service is to offer prayers against the negative impact of COVID-19 as we have seen it ravage South Africans; we are praying for the success of the vaccine rollout, and we are covering the members of our community and the nation at large in the Spirit of God,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, which is a member of the Religious Forum Against COVID-19.
The service will be officiated by religious leaders from the Christian community, Muslim Council of Theologians, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, All Africa Bishop’s Council, South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Union of Orthodox Synagogues & Office of the Chief Rabbi, the Council of African Independent Churches, and the Shembe Group.
In seeking to include all South Africans in this day, the Religious Forum Against COVID-19 acknowledges that not everyone would be able to participate in the morning service. “It is for this reason that, once we have completed our various Sunday traditions and activities, we would like to invite all South Africans—as individuals and as institutions, businesses, organs of state and private organisations—to publicly commit to observing 67 minutes of prayer from 6:00 pm to 7:07 pm,” Malusi said.
At any time during the 67 minutes, South Africans can participate in the form of prayer, lighting of candles, ringing of church bells, meditation, hooting, observing a moment of silence or any other expression one might choose to observe in the moment. “We call on everyone, everywhere – to unite in prayer,” said Malusi.
A group of about 20 Christians from all over South Africa, representing the 13 most common languages spoken in the nation, have prepared a webpage, Twitter feed, Facebook account, Instagram account, and WhatsApp campaign to invite all South Africans to pray.
The group is also inviting those across the world to pray and express solidarity with South Africans who are facing unrest, COVID-19 and socio-economic turmoil.
“We firmly believe that South Africa needs the power of prayer to unify us all in this unprecedented time in our history,” wrote the organizers in the invitation. “May the power of the Holy Spirit move each person who reads this email to involve as many others as they can today.”