Shock and grief at the terrible shootings of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand mosques has prompted active public support from Christians across our Diocese.
Some examples of that engagement include how in Leeds, Pioneer Minister at St Margaret & All Hallows, Heston Groenewald joined in prayer at the city's Grand Mosque, pictured left, and commented: "honoured to pray and hurt and hope with Leeds Grand Mosque sisters and brothers."
Bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley, who took up her post just over a year ago after serving as a Bishop in New Zealand, gave many radio interviews expressing prayerful solidarity with all those affected.
She also attended a civic vigil in Bradford's Centenary Square at 5.30pm today with the Dean of Bradford Cathedral, Jerry Lepine and Archdeacon of Bradford Andy Jolley, council and other faith leaders.
Earlier, Bishop Toby Howarth joined Friday afternoon prayers at the Central Mosque in Westgate, Bradford and commented:
“It is important, after the horrific attacks in New Zealand, that we fight hatred with friendship and stood in solidarity with Muslims as they gathered for Friday Prayers today.
“The friendships across our different faiths in Bradford are strong and I thank God for those relationships as we pray together for all those affected.”
Our other bishops and senior clergy offered condolences and support to Muslim communities within their areas and deaneries.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick baines is currently on sabbatical.
Bishop Helen-Ann also wrote an opinion piece for the Yorkshire Post, published below:
‘Nau te rourou, naku te rourou, ka ora ta manuhiri’ (‘With your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive).
This Māori proverb sums up a key aspect of New Zealand culture: different people coming together, each playing their part to help build stronger communities.
I lived and worked in New Zealand from 2012 until the end of 2017 when we returned home to North Yorkshire.
I’ve been struck here how that mark of generous hospitality is very much a feature of our diverse rural communities.
These are basic human traits: welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, tend to the weak. This morning I like so many others awoke to the horrific scenes from Christchurch, a city that has made news headlines in recent year with the devastation caused by the earthquakes.
New Zealand is a small country; everyone knows one another, or at least the proverbial seven degrees of separation feels at times more like one degree, or no degrees at all.
So the impact of this horror will be felt far and wide, with shock and disbelief prominently voiced on many a social media timeline.
A close friend of mine in Auckland messaged me to say her brother (who is an Emergency doctor) had been flown to Christchurch to assist with those injured.
I contacted the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch Peter Carrell, who has only been in post for a matter of weeks.
His response was to stress the importance of a united response from church leaders working closely with Muslim and other faith leaders to show solidarity and support.
A nation should never be defined by hatred and fear, rather more by peace and justice. New Zealand for all its tendency towards the secular holds dear its reputation for fairness and tolerance; each person having an opportunity to flourish.
This mass shooting will I suspect challenge all of that most deeply, and in the coming days there will be much soul-searching and analysis of how this could have possibly happened. We know that globally tensions are running high on many fronts.
We are hardly immune to extreme views in this nation, particularly at the moment.
Identity is always held in the local but forged in relationship to others.
So what we can do, and what I will be doing today, is make visible a commitment to supporting our Muslim sisters and brothers.
Let love prevail.