The World Council of Churches has called for Christians across the world to join in praying the Lord's Prayer at noon, Rome time, on Wednesday, 25th March, as the world continues to grapple with the expanding coronavirus pandemic.

The call for prayer was first issued by Pope Francis who extended an invitation to all Christians to take part in the initiative. In a letter sent to Christian leaders, including those at the WCC, Cardinal Kurt Koch expressed the hope that all would join “this initiative in which all Christians invoking together the graces from heaven, will ask for the end of this pandemic, trusting in the power of God.”

Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary welcomed the invitation and has invited WCC member churches - which represent some half a billion people in 110 countries - to take part.

“As people across the globe are in their scattered working places at home, we will have the opportunity to unite our voices in praying to God with the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us” said Tveit in a statement. “At this challenging time, prayerful activities that unite us are a reminder that we are one human family.”

On Sunday, the WCC urged churches to give the highest priority to “doing whatever we can do to protect life”, "not to have public services tomorrow as this can become hubs of transmission of the virus” and to follow strictly the rules and guidelines from authorites based on WHO guidelines.

In a joint statement, Tveit and Dr Agnes Aboum, moderator of the WCC central committee, asked WCC member churches to reconsider the way they worked.

 “We must also be particularly aware that exactly what we normally do, in community, is what we should not do now if we want to protect life," they said. "We value togetherness in worship and Christian fellowship. But in this time of crisis, and out of love for each other and the neighbor, we should not gather in great numbers together, if at all, nor touch or embrace each other.”

“This is a time to touch each other’s hearts, by what we say, what we share, what we do – and what we do not do – to protect the life God loves so much. In that love, we must adapt our modes of worship and fellowship to the needs of this time of the pandemic, in order to avoid the risk of becoming sources of transmission rather than means of grace.”

The WCC has established a special webpage on the coranavirus crisis.