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Methodist leaders voice support for London, decry attacks

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The Rev. R. Randy Day
July 7, 2005

A UMNS Report
By Tim Tanton*


Methodist leaders in the United States and Africa expressed sympathy and support July 7 for the people of London following a series of explosions that authorities believe were set by terrorists.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those who have been lost in this early morning attack,” said United Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer, in a statement to Iowa Area church members. “We pray for healing for the injured and for strength for the emergency services and medical personnel who are, even now, caring for so many.”

The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, wrote a letter of sympathy and concern to the Rev. David Deeks, top staff executive of the Methodist Church of Britain.

“In my letter, I recalled the importance of the expressions of support that came to the board from around the world at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington D.C.,” Day said in a separate statement.

“Terrorists are cowards in that they attack the most vulnerable—in the London case, men and women, young and old, on the way to work on a Thursday morning. Such action is senseless and cannot foster any cause,” he said.

Nearly 40 people were believed killed and more than 700 injured, but British authorities were still assessing the toll July 7. A group purporting to be an al-Qaida organization in Europe claimed responsibility, but the authenticity of the claim could not be confirmed.

Day said he hoped the representatives of the Group of Eight nations, meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, wouldn’t be diverted from their work “of providing assistance for the poorest nations.”

Bishop Peter Weaver, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, was sending personal messages to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and to the Rev. Tom Stuckey, president of the British Methodist Conference, according to the council’s office in Washington.

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The Rev. Samuel Kobia
The Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya and top staff executive of the World Council of Churches, expressed solidarity with the attack victims. The Geneva-based council is promoting a “Decade to Overcome Violence” through 2010—an effort that Kobia described as born out of a “radical rejection of violence.”

“Peace is the only way to achieve justice for all,” Kobia said. “When, as it seems on this occasion, violence is deliberately targeting civilians and willing to create terror in the population, it could be described as a crime against humanity. There is nothing that can justify the killing of innocent people anywhere.

“This kind of event is a call to all of us, churches, other religious organizations and the whole of humanity to strengthen our commitment to building a just and peaceful world where all human beings may feel secure and safe in their homes, in their cities and communities.”

The National Council of Churches USA said it joined in praying for the injured and offering sympathy to those who lost loved ones.

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Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
“While we recognize that religion is sometimes used to legitimize such acts of violence, we together with other mainstream religious organizations, including many in the Muslim community, thoroughly and unequivocally condemn such violence and enjoin all religious communities to pursue peace in a thousand ways,” said the Rev. Bob Edgar, top staff executive of the council and a United Methodist pastor.

Palmer noted London’s significance as a spiritual center for Methodists. John Wesley and the early Methodists “reached out to the widows, orphans, disposed and otherwise desperate sisters and brothers in the London streets nearly three centuries ago,” he said. Wesley Chapel and the Foundry are among the city’s Methodist landmarks.

“Let us pray, and intentionally work, for a world in which the anger and evil that infects some is cured by the witness and hands-on healing of the overwhelming love of Jesus Christ,” Palmer said.

*Tanton is managing editor for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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