A moving and uplifting video message to an international conference from outspoken North Belfast cleric the Rev Karen Sethuraman has been praised for giving hope to those left reeling by the Covid-19 crisis.
A former chaplain to three Lord Mayors, the Rev Sethuraman is the only Baptist female minister in Ireland — as the Irish Baptist church refuses to ordain women, she had travel to England to take her vows.
In recent years, the Rev Sethurman's mission has been to the marginalised and voiceless — her outreach project at the 174 Trust in North Belfast, the Down Community, has been, in particular, a place of sanctuary for LGBT Christians.
When the story of the Good Samaritan comes alive today 👇... ❤️ pic.twitter.com/oOrjvo47mP— Karen Sethuraman (@KarenSethuraman) June 15, 2020
Now her powerful Prayer for The Rebuilding Journey, broadcast live at the New York-New Belfast summit on Friday past, has copper-fastened her reputation as a tribune for the dispossessed.
Entitled Rebuild, the invocation focuses on the enduring images of the pandemic: the elderly dying without family members by their bedside; workers being laid off; food banks battling to meet need.
"We restore, revive, and rebuild," concludes Rev Sethuraman.
You can watch the entire prayer above. The full text is published below:
Our loved one taken into hospital, we stand outside.
We can't hold their hand or be at their bedside.
The dreaded phone call, the dreaded loss.
All of a sudden, you're face to face with this virus and such great loss.
Will there be beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, healing for grief, no matter how brief.
The light will break through as we rebuild those precious lives suddenly interrupted and stilled.
Placed on furlough, facing redundancy.
Many businesses, charities, communities seeking funding.
The need for food banks and mortgage breaks.
Are we hearing our people? Are we hearing their heartache?
I pray we take time to observe the devastation and begin the hard work of restoration.
New York and New Belfast, imagine a new day.
As you gather for this conference, I pray you pave the way.
Taking the lives of our people interrupted and stilled, I pray, together, we restore, repair, revive and rebuild.
May God bless you all.