What religious leaders across our region are saying about the death of Queen Elizabeth II
Religious leaders across the region have expressed their sorrow amid the nation facing a "global moment of deep and profound grief" over the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Senior figures from various faiths have described Her Majesty as someone who led a "remarkable life of faithful service" during her profound 70-year reign over the country.
And they have offered their condolences to the Royal Family and to King Charles III who will lead the nation despite suffering the loss of his mother on Thursday afternoon.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, whose diocese also covers Shrewsbury in Shropshire, was in Paris on holiday when the devastating news broke.
He said: "It's clearly a momentous loss and of course people are feeling extremely sad because she's been such a part of our lives and certainly throughout all of my lifetime.
"And she's fulfilled her role with such grace, energy and commitment and I think as well as feeling very very sad we should be feeling a big sense of thanksgiving because she was the best of us.
"I think she's been a tremendous source of unity in our nation and beyond, in the Commonwealth, and it was very moving seeing how people were responding in France. But primarily, she's brought us together because she's been all above the divisions and factions that divide us and has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement.
"It was always said when she talks to you, it's like you are the only person there and she had that gift of talking directly to our hearts especially during her Christmas messages. A lot has changed during her 70-year reign but she has remained the constant."
The religious leader, when asked what advice he could give to people feeling lost, said: "I would say to people look out for each other and keep close to each other. The Queen was a person of great faith and faith comes into its own in a situation like this, do remember the gift of faith and do find comfort in that."
Bishop of Wolverhampton Clive Gregory said: "Together with the rest of the nation, I feel a deep sense of personal sadness at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II our wonderful and revered monarch, but also I do feel a sense of thanksgiving for a life supremely well lived and for the fact she was able to continue as our monarch for 70 years with all the virtues she displayed.
"And I feel a sense of blessing that she was able to still be performing her duties – the induction of a new Prime Minister just two days before her death. As I understand it, her death was a peaceful one so there's a sense of blessing for that. This feeling of blessing and thanksgiving can be a bit lost amid the sadness and mourning, but that's the mixture of emotions I'm feeling and I'm sure others are too."
The religious leader said people can pay their respects at their local Church of England church where they can light a candle, sign a book of condolence, or be alone with their thoughts in the presence of others.
He added: "I would encourage people to be aware of that and take the opportunity, if that would be helpful. For many people, at a time like this, it's good to be together with others rather than be on your own feeling these intense emotions. I would say try and reach out and connect with others as much as possible."
Bishop of Dudley Martin Gorick said: "Like most people in the UK, Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has been the only monarch I have ever known, as she came to the throne 10 years before I was born.
"My parents lived through the Second World War and they particularly remembered how the young princess comforted people whose houses had been destroyed in the Blitz.
"When I was 15, she passed our house during her Silver Jubilee procession around the country. There was a carnival atmosphere and street had been crowded for hours just to see her drive through.
"Later in life I was privileged to meet HM the Queen in person which was always a delight and privilege. She was a sincere and prayerful Christian lady. Her Christmas broadcasts often went to the heart of her faith in ways that embraced the diversity of the nation and commonwealth.
"She lived out her calling to lead this country in the ways of righteousness and peace and was more than worthy of the titles she held under God: Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and Defender of the Faith.
"We mourn her passing. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
The Bishop of Worcester Dr John Inge said: “I was immensely sad to learn of the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She has been on the throne since before most of us were born and has been a constant source of strength, stability and inspiration throughout her long reign.
"She has been the glue which has held this country and the Commonwealth together and I give heartfelt thanks for her life of selfless service. That service was undergirded and enabled by a deep Christian faith and we now commend her to the God in whom she believed, whose love is stronger than death, as we also pray for members of the Royal Family, particularly our new King.
"May they be given grace and strength. God Save The King.”
The Bishop of Hereford Richard Jackson said he had the privilege of meeting the Queen at the start of his time in office when he participated in the traditional ceremony of homage.
He said: " I was the seventh Bishop of Hereford to do so in her Majesties reign. She was both dignified and informal and we were able to chat for some time at the conclusion of the ceremony.
"She was well informed about our diocese and my own circumstances. She visited the Cathedral on four separate occasions and the diocese for a number of other formal royal events. As many have said, when she spoke to you, she made you feel as if you were the only person there.
"She has been a constant in our lives for eight decades and has been steadfast in her service to our country and The Commonwealth.
"Her reign will be remembered for her witness to some of the biggest historical moments of the last century: the Second World War, international crises financial and military, a global pandemic, and the rise of post modern societies, global consumerism, travel, superpowers as well as an exceptional explosion of technology.
"Despite witnessing so much change, she has managed to remain both constant and evolving. She re-defined the British monarchy whilst maintaining the mystery of this much revered and loved institution in an era where the level of public scrutiny has increased with every passing decade of her reign.
"Throughout her reign, her faith in Jesus Christ remained the bedrock on which she built her life. Her role as Supreme Head of the Church of England was not a mere title but something about which she was passionate.
"This is a global moment of deep and profound grief that will be felt by many. Her 70-year reign will fill the history books as we mark the end of the second Elizabethan era in this country.
"Today we remember that there is also a personal loss for the Royal family, and I pray that God will comfort them at this time."
Most Rev Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, highlighted two bible passages – O Lord, you have been our refuge, from one generation to the next (Psalm 90:1) and Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I shall give you rest. (Matthew 11:28).
He said: "As we digest the news, these two passages from the Bible speak to me of Her Majesty the Queen’s remarkable life of duty and service, as she lays down the burden of her years and begins a new life in God’s presence for ever.
"Although the Queen’s life has been long and full, this is still a time of sadness, first of all for her family, but also for so many people who have admired the Queen’s dignity and dedication throughout her life.
"In particular, as people of faith, we have valued her frequent references to her own faith in Christ, which has given her strength and guidance in all the circumstances of her life.
"Her death is the fulfilment of a long and fruitful life and we commend her soul to the loving mercy of God. We pray for her and for all those who mourn her loss, especially her family.
"In the midst of his own sadness, I pray for our new sovereign King Charles III, as he assumes his new responsibilities, and for the Queen Consort who stands by his side. I pray for our country at this time: that the Kingdom of God which is our final destination may influence our life on earth and our hope of Heaven."
Raj Mehta, who as well as being the Mayor of Telford and Wrekin is also the chairman of Telford and Wrekin Interfaith Council, said: "The Queen was the mother of the nation and cared about all faiths and communities who lived here. She visited many of those communities and places of worship and also in her role as head of the Commonwealth she was much loved in those countries to.
"She was head of the Church of England but her role transcended denominations - she cared for all people and that always shone through, She will be sorely missed not only by the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth but those across the world."
In a pastoral letter to be read at all masses across the Shrewsbury diocese on Sunday, Catholic Bishop Mark Davies said: "With so many across the country and across the world, we share a sense of loss today of a Head of State and the Commonwealth who exemplified duty and public service.
"We have, indeed, been blessed to live in the reign of the Second Elizabeth and to have known such an example at the centre of our national life. The Queen’s tireless service across more than 70 years, was always sustained by her faith in Christ and her daily prayer.
"We also cannot forget today her warm welcome to these shores of Saint John Paul II, the first Pope to visit our land, and of his successor Pope Benedict XVI.
"Let us use these days of national mourning and this time of the accession and eventually coronation of a new King, to remember all we should pray for both living and departed. . "May her family and our nation find light and strength in the Christian faith she shared. and may our new King be granted strength and wisdom in all the ways he is called to serve."
Church services across the region were also adapted to help pay tribute to the Queen and provide a place for people to reflect.
At St Peter's Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton, a special Eucharist service was held with a prayer for the Queen and the Royal Family, led by rector Rev. David Wright, following a muffled ringing of bells at 12pm.
Rev. Wright said the church would be open throughout the week as a place of welcome and reflection, with people able to light a candle and sign a book of condolence, and said the church gave people a place to reflect and come together.