Church leaders appeal for prayer and practical support over Brexit anxiety

(Photo: Reuters)

Bishops in Devon have written to the region's 600 Anglican churches asking them to pray for the nation in the face of ongoing uncertainty over Brexit. 

The letter comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a new deal had been struck with the EU. He now has a battle on his hands to get his deal backed by Parliament, with a vote scheduled for Saturday in the House of Commons. 

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, and the two Suffragan Bishops of Plymouth and Crediton, the Rt Rev Nick McKinnel and the Rt Rev Jackie Searle, have written to the churches they oversee with guidance about how to respond to Brexit anxiety in local communities.

The letter expresses particular concern over how Brexit will affect Devon's farming communities and advises churches to familiarise themselves with the welfare organisations that can best support them. 

The bishops also note the scale of divisions across the country over Britain's departure from the EU and asks that churches and church leaders "pray for the unity and reconciliation of our nation, for our politicians and community leaders, for journalists and all who shape public opinion."

Other practical measures that churches are advised to take include making sure that foodbanks in their area are well stocked and have enough volunteers, and ensuring that EU nationals are made to feel welcome in the parish. 

"The Church of England must continue to be the Church for everyone," they said. 

"There are leavers and remainers in every congregation in Devon, but as Christians we are united by our shared responsibility to work for the common good and to promote a culture of mutual respect.

"We also have a responsibility to speak out for the most vulnerable in our communities and to help them as best we can. Are there practical things we can do by way of support? As a diocese, we have an incredible network of parishes, schools and chaplaincies across Devon.

"If we work together, we can make a difference."