Prayers said for Mandela

(AP)Young members of the choir attend a morning mass in memory of Nelson Mandela at the Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. South Africans flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honour Nelson Mandela, starting planned events that will culminate in what is expected to be one of the biggest funerals in modern times.

A national day of prayer was held in churches across South Africa on Sunday to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela.

At the beginning of the official programme of mourning, President Jacob Zuma said he hoped that prayer services would "heal the nation".

"We should pray for us not to forget some of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for," he said at a meeting in a Methodist church in Johannesburg, which was met with cries of agreement from the congregation.

In his speech officially announcing Mandela's death to the world last week, President Zuma called for a future built on the principles heralded by his predecessor - those of unity, freedom and justice.

"Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another," he said.

"Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

"This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow, yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination. A determination to live as Madiba has lived."

Prayer services are also being held in Mandela's memory across the UK.

In London, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the sermon at a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in which he praised Mandela's "determination in the face of evil".

Archbishop Justin Welby said: "Mandela had the capacity not only to have a vision for reconciliation, to combine courage and forgiveness in the most extraordinary alchemy of humanity but he also had a remarkable gift for turning that into practice.

"I remember clearly the forecasts of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dead. When you see his capacity to turn that round, that says something about an inner force based in a vision of what humanity should be, that comes out of Christian teaching."

South Africa's first black president opened the Millennium buildings at Southwark Cathedral in 2001, where prayers have been offered up for his nation and family during a special service.

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said: "Nelson Mandela was an inspiration for the people of South Africa and for people everywhere. He showed that resisting evil means laying your life down, risking everything, giving everything for freedom, for truth, for the future.

"He was a father to his nation and a father to us all – we are all his children, black and white together".

A candle continues to burn in the cathedral in Mandela's memory.

The Right Reverend Christopher Chesson, Bishop of Southwark, said Mandela was "extraordinary" and commended his demonstration of "the power of forgiveness".

"He did it by showing how to love rather than hate. He did it by allowing reconciliation to flourish in place of recrimination," he said.

"There are very few people who truly change the world. Nelson Mandela was such a person."

In celebration of Mandela's legacy and the difference he has made to communities across the world, the Archbishop of York Youth Trust is offering a lesson resource pack free to all schools which will help students to learn about the anti-apartheid activist's life, faith and leadership.

The pack is one of a number of resources featured as part of the Young Leaders Award, which encourages young people to engage with their local communities.

Dean Finn, Director of the Archbishop of York Youth Trust said: "Students have been inspired by Nelson Mandela's leadership as they have studied his life.

"As a result we've seen huge numbers of social action projects take place across the north of England as the students have been empowered to 'be the change they want to see'."

The Trust hopes that the resources will inspire more young people to respond practically to the needs of their communities in the spirit of togetherness that lay at the heart of Mandela's actions.

The pack can be downloaded at