British Methodist church leaders were among those praying for the families and young victims of the May 22 bombing at a concert site in Manchester, England.
The Rev. Roger Walton, president, and Rachel Lampard, vice president, of the British Methodist Conference, joined others in expressing horror that young people and children were targeted while leaving an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.
The attack by a suicide-bomber has claimed 22 lives so far and injured nearly 60 others. The BBC called it the worst terrorist attack in Britain since the July 7 bombings in London in 2005.
“We give thanks for the emergency services and for the many ordinary people who demonstrated compassion in responding to those caught up in the tragedy,” Walton and Lampard said. “We ask the Methodist people to hold the people of Manchester and beyond in their prayers as we remember the words of Psalm 34, ‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.’"
The Rev. Andrew Lunn, chair of the church’s Manchester and Stockport District, and the Rev. Paul Martin, chair of the Bolton and Rochdale District, said that Methodists in the Manchester area “are united with many others in their sense of shock, and in their prayers for all those who have been bereaved, wounded, or traumatized.”
Lunn and Martin pointed to #WeStandTogether, a movement in Manchester that draws together people of many faiths and backgrounds. “In a diverse city, one thing we can be sure of is that people in Manchester will not let this event divide us,” they wrote.
The Rev. Kathleen LaCamera, a United Methodist minister and member of the New York Conference who lives in the Manchester area, called the bombing “a terrible, terrible event in every way.”
LaCamera, a hospital and mental health chaplain, was busy responding to community needs the day after the attack with her mental health team, which is based only 5 miles from the Manchester Arena.
The chapel at Methodist Central Hall in the city’s Northern Quarter was open throughout the day for quiet reflection and prayer.
Thomas Kemper, top executive, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, sent a message of shock and solidarity to the Methodist Church in Britain. “May we fight violence and hatred everywhere and overcome evil with love,” he said. “There is no other way.”
Top executives of the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches issued a joint statement encouraging prayer for and solidarity with the bombing victims and their loved ones.
“We honor a God who is life-giving, who sustains and redeems,” the statement said. “Such horrors as happened last night encourage us to affirm this truth even more strongly.”
The six presidents of Churches Together in England, whose members include the Methodist Church, offered prayers for strength and courage.
“Our faith teaches us that even the worst of evils can never defeat love, so we pray that the people of Manchester, of all faiths and none, will discover a renewed unity as they respond to this atrocity with compassion, dignity and hope.”
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York. Follow Bloom at https://twitter.com/umcscribe or contact her at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.