Dear Friends,

This week, our country passed an unfortunate and grim marker–100,000 counted deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the numbers have grown each passing day and week, we have yet to fully mourn all that we are losing. These are our neighbors, family members, and coworkers. In most instances, family and friends have been unable to appropriately grieve and remember loved ones lost.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over, especially in our beloved South. Many southern states are still seeing increasing numbers of cases.

Over the coming days, we will stand in solidarity with a network of more than 100 national faith leaders of various denominations who will pray for healing in their worship services–a time marked by moments of silence, lowering of flags, interfaith vigils and prayers, ringing of bells and civic memorials.

To quote Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, “We must stop. We must weep. We must mourn. We must honor. And we must lament, which is to feel and bear great grief and sorrow, and reflect upon it.”

We ask that you join this movement by:

  1. Asking your faith leaders  and congregations to join in this weekend’s unprecedented show of unity, as mosques, synagogues, churches, and other houses of worship acknowledge this grim milestone with a time for lament and mourning — in whatever ways are best and most appropriate in your tradition.

  2. Calling on your elected officials — mayors, governors, and members of Congress — to acknowledge Monday, June 1 as a National Day of Mourning and Lament with interfaith clergy. Please invite your pastors and local faith-based leaders to help plan and join in with those interfaith services.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Governors Association are also inviting their members to take part. Together, interfaith leaders, mayors and governors across the nation will call us to mourn, lament, and honor the dead, acknowledge the unequal nature of our suffering, pray together for the healing of the nation, and recommit to the difficult work ahead.

We must also take this moment to reflect on the impact of racism in all aspects of our lives. We’ve consistently noted how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities. But in these communities where grieving and mourning is already high, added stressors like recent racial and police violence only exasperate already emotionally-taxed communities. In the spirit of public mourning and lament, we must remember to honor the Black Americans who have been killed in the most recent acts of violence–Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breanna Taylor and others.

The call for healing unites us across party, race, gender, orientation, and religion – reaffirming for us that we are, in fact, stronger together. In trying times like these, it’s easy to let hopelessness consume you, but this can’t be a time of despair. We are stronger than that. Hope for a better future will carry us through. And, together, we are better than when we work or pray or mourn alone.

Please join us in this time of collective mourning. And invite your local faith leaders and elected officials – federal, state and local –to join us in this moment of healing.

Mitch Landrieu
Founder and President