PRAY at home this Easter is the message to Christians from the Rt Rev Bishop of Bradford Toby Howarth and other church leaders.

In an open letter signed by the Bishop , the Dean of Bradford Cathedral, Jerry Lepine and leaders of the city’s Roman Catholic, Methodist and Baptist Churches, he urges: “We are called this Easter to love God and to love our neighbours by staying at home.

It’s that simple.”

He says how that view is shared by other faith leaders in Bradford and highlights the important outreach work being done by Christian churches in supporting local communities.

The Rt Rev Howarth's letter in full reads:

“Warm greetings for Holy Week and Easter at this challenging time!

Celebrating Easter away from our locked churches is especially painful for us.

This is our holiest time of the year as we remember Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. But Jesus shared his Last Supper, and appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, in an upper room in someone’s home.

We are called this Easter to love God and to love our neighbours by staying at home. It’s that simple.

There is so much more that our churches are doing, of course: praying for key workers on the front line; praying for those who are ill, self-isolating, or suffering hardship; live-streaming church services and caring for others by telephone or online.

Many Christians have joined the extraordinary army of volunteers from all faiths and none supporting the NHS, getting food to those who need it or joining a telephone befriending service. Churches have become Neighbourhood Support Centres.

But for most of us, if we are not key workers and apart from the few exceptions like grocery shopping and exercise, we need to stay home.

As Christian leaders, we are committed to doing the right thing for our wider society, and we trust that all Christians who share this faith with us will do likewise.

We have been in conversation with other faith leaders across our City and District, and we are encouraged, as our communities celebrate different religious festivals, that we are united in this message. Love of neighbour does not belong exclusively to any one of our faiths. It is a calling on us all.

This comes with our prayers that you will experience the joy of the risen Christ who knows no locked doors."

Rt Revd Dr Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford

Fr Keiron Walker, Roman Catholic Dean of Bradford

Rev Kerry Tankard, Chairman of Yorkshire West Methodist District

Rev Graham Ensor, Team Leader Yorkshire Baptist Association

Very Rev Jerry Lepine, Dean of Bradford