Britain's Christians get creative to mark Easter under lockdown

London (AFP) –


A priest in Britain has taken to London's streets to say prayers and hymns to soothe the souls of local Christians in lockdown over Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"If people can't go to church, church should go to the people," Reverend Patrick Allerton told AFP.

The 41-year-old began conducting mini-masses on West London streets -- while maintaining social distancing -- after his church was closed due to a March 23 government-ordered nationwide lockdown.

On Easter Sunday, the bicycle-riding clergyman had pitched up outside a small row of colourful houses on Portobello Road, in the capital's famous Notting Hill neighbourhood, near his shuttered institution.

"I simply play a hymn, 'Amazing Grace', then lead a time of silent prayer or reflection for the sick and the NHS, then lead the Lord’s prayer," he said, referring to Britain's state-run National Health Service (NHS).

"It's much shorter than a normal service."

As Britain finishes a third week under lockdown and deaths from COVID-19 climb by nearly 1,000 a day so far this Easter weekend, Allerton said he simply aims "to bring hope" to an anxious nation.

"Hope conquers fear," he added.

"At the very least, it's a positive communal activity and singing brings joy."

Allerton is not from a Christian background but found his faith aged 18 and was then ordained a decade ago.

He said the response during his two weeks of street surmonising had been overwhelmingly positive.

"A few ask me to turn it down or off, but (that is) very rare," he added.

"I'm just delighted to be able to play a small part in bringing people hope at this incredibly tough time."

Other Christian congregations in Britain have been adapting to stay connected, from masses broadcast live on YouTube to those delivered in churchyards.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of Anglicans, celebrated Easter Sunday Mass with thousands of followers on a video recorded from his kitchen.

The sermon was rebroadcast on 39 local BBC stations and posted online, making it the first national digital service organised by the Church of England.