'Horrified and deeply saddened'
Christians are among those to express their horror at the terror attack in Manchester on Monday night (22 May).
At least 22 people died when a lone male set off a homemade bomb at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena. Prime Minister Theresa May described it as ‘a callous terrorist attack’ that targeted some of the youngest people in our society 'with cold calculation.’
Baptists have taken to social media to express their distress and prayers.
‘Shocked to hear the news as I woke up this morning,’ wrote Baptists Together General Secretary Lynn Green on her Facebook page. ‘Praying that all people of peace would resist the darkness...’
Andy Fitchet, minister of Whitchurch Baptist Church in Hampshire said: 'Horrified and deeply saddened by the attack in Manchester. Thoughts and prayers for those who have lost loved ones and those fighting for life.'
Others had similar messages:
Joe Haward, minister of This Hope Baptist Church in Newton Abbot, invited others to join him on Facebook Live at 1.15pm for a time of prayer for the people murdered in the bombing, and their families. He said he would also pray for the families murdered in bombing attacks in Iraq a couple of days ago, and Afghanistan over the last few weeks.
A number of Baptist churches opened their doors for people to pray, including Northfield Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Church from Scratch, a pioneering Baptist church in Southend, Essex, quoted Martin Luther King on its FB page:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Richard Littledale, minister of Newbury Baptist Church, Berkshire, highlighted the way the city’s people had offered rooms, taxi rides and more under the #roomsformanchester hashtag
On Tuesday afternoon, Phil Jump, Regional Minister North Western Baptist Association, released a statement and a prayer
in reponse to the attack. He wrote:
North West Baptists will be among the many ordinary citizens across our region who are stunned and shocked by the terror attack in Manchester Arena on Monday evening. At this stage, we do not know whether any of our churches and families will have been affected, but our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been harmed by this act of mindless evil.
We know already that young people from across the North West and beyond, attended Monday’s concert, and while Manchester has borne the brunt, this is an attack on all of us. As Regional Minister, it is truly heart-breaking to hear the names of familiar communities identified as the places from which many of the victims have come. I am sure, in the days ahead, that many local congregations will be reaching out to provide care and support in the neighbourhoods that they serve.
This is also a moment to affirm faith as that which heightens our awareness of divine love and human goodness, and to renounce any attempt to use it to justify wickedness and harm. Such actions have no place in any civilised society or faith community.
Our emotions at this time will be raw and varied. A mixture of dismay, horror, fear, anger and defiance will no doubt emerge as we struggle to comprehend what has happened. These reactions are inevitable, but it is vital that we do not give in to those who perpetrate such evil and allow these natural human emotions to cultivate the division and distrust that they seek to sow.
As churches and individual citizens, let us commit ourselves afresh to building communities of hope, goodness and compassion - reflecting the values of God’s Kingdom and the principles of love, kindness and self-giving on which our faith is founded.
Tony Peck, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), wrote to EBF members: 'Please pray for the people of Manchester, England, after last night's terrorist atrocity at the Manchester Arena that has left 22 dead, some of them children, and many injured. Some of our churches in the region will open this evening for prayer. Lord, have mercy.'
Baptists in Europe have also sent messages to Lynn Green to assure British Baptists of their prayers and solidarity. Mark Deroeux, General Secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France, said,
'Ahead of our French Baptist Union, I assure you of our prayer and our solidarity after the terrible terrorist attack in Manchester. Our churches pray with you to comfort the victims' families and to support the police forces. We pray and work too for peace in our world. We want to assure our sisters churches of all our compassion. We are standing along with you!
Akos Bukovszky of the Baptist Union of Hungary said,
I would like to express on behalf of Hungarian Baptists to you all our condolences at the loss of a number of lives in the terror attack in Manchester. We feel that this terrible tragedy must compel us even more to repent, stand together and double our effort to make known the Prince of Peace among all in line with Lk 13;1-5. Wishing you and all our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the UK God's comfort in these difficult times.
Elsewhere, the Presidents of Churches Together in England - Archbishop Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, The Revd Canon Billy Kennedy, Bishop Dr Eric Brown released the following statement:
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with all those bereaved and injured by the cruel, senseless terrorist attack in Manchester. May God grant them 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.’
The Anglican Bishops from The Church of England’s Diocese of Blackburn have issued a joint statement this morning following the Manchester Arena attack.
The Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; the Rt Rev. Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster and the Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, said:
We are shocked and appalled by the news of the attack at the Manchester Arena. To target an event attended by so many children and young people is barbaric beyond words or belief.
Our thoughts at this time are with all the victims and most especially those who are unsure about the whereabouts or safety of their loved ones.
Many of the Churches of Lancashire are about to enter a time of prayer for our nation under the title, 'Thy Kingdom Come’. We therefore commit ourselves to deep and heartfelt prayer for all caught up in this terrible incident.
We will not only pray that the Kingdom values of justice, love and peace might transform the hearts of all who would sow hatred and fear but will also commit ourselves afresh to action to building a world that reflects those values.
People from parishes across Lancashire will be coming to Blackburn Cathedral tomorrow evening, May 24, at 7.30pm for our ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ beacon launch event.
We will now make time during this service to offer prayers for the victims of the Manchester attack and anyone who wishes to join us as we offer these prayers is welcome to do so.
The Methodist Church also offered this statement and prayer.