Solidarity following mosque attacks in Christchurch
Local churches reach out to Muslim communities as LWF condemns attack
(LWI) - Following the mass shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, local Lutheran churches have expressed solidarity with the country’s Muslim community.
In a joint message, shared with members of the churches in Australia and New Zealand at the weekend, Bishop Mark Whitfield, Lutheran Church of New Zealand, and Bishop John Henderson, Lutheran Church of Australia, offered condolences and prayers for peace.
They noted that in the aftermath of the attacks, many people in cities across New Zealand reached out to Muslim friends and strangers to offer sympathy and support.
Bishop Whitfield said he had written to both the Muslim community in Christchurch and to the national leadership “assuring them of the prayers and the love of the members of the Lutheran church of New Zealand”. He said he would be organizing and leading groups to visit two of the local mosques in Tauranga and Kawerau on the North Island. “We will bring flowers, we will show and express our love, and we will pray there”, he said in the message.
The shootings happened during worship services in two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March. A gunman shot 49 worshippers dead and wounded 48 more. Another person has since died of injuries while many others are still fighting for their lives.
Meanwhile the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed its solidarity, condemning the attacks and calling for places of worship to be safe spaces.
“I want to share my solidarity and sympathy with you, your churches and communities,” LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge said in a letter to the Lutheran Church in Australia and the Lutheran Church of New Zealand.
Places of worship and prayer should be safe spaces, where people can feel hope not fear. As the Lutheran World Federation, we call on all people of good will and followers of different religions to come together to work for peace, justice and respect of human life.
“Places of worship and prayer should be safe spaces, where people can feel hope not fear”, he said. As the Lutheran World Federation, we call on all people of good will and followers of different religions to come together to work for peace, justice and respect of human life.”
Concluding his letter, the LWF General Secretary referred to Psalm 46. “As you live through troubled times, we pray and trust that you and your churches may find strength in your faith, to build bridges of peace between the people and religions in New Zealand.”
The Lutheran Church of New Zealand is a district of the Lutheran Church of Australia, an associate member church of the LWF since 1994.