Moderator calls for prayer and compassion following the Sydney siege

The Uniting Church in South Australia mourns the death of those who were taken hostage in yesterday’s Sydney siege.  We pray for the families and loved ones of the deceased at this very difficult time. Our heartfelt prayers also go out to those individuals who were terrorised and injured throughout the horrific 16 hour hostage situation, which occured in Lindt cafe in the CBD of Sydney.

We are thankful for emergency workers and the NSW police who worked tirelessly throughout the siege. Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of these workers who would have been concerned about the safety of their loved ones last night.

As we approach Christmas and the coming of the Christ, the expression of God’s reconciliation and peace, let us respond in ways to this tragedy, that will build a stronger Australian community. One that is marked by appreciation of, and respect for, our diverse cultures and expressions of faith. Let us reach out to our Muslim neighbors extending compassion and love as we stand in solidarity alongside them. The hash tag #Illridewithyou has been a heartening public demonstration of people across Australia standing in solidarity with the Sydney Muslim community.

We join with our Assembly leaders and the NSW Moderator in expressing our care and support as part of the Uniting Church in Australia. 

Uniting Church President, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney expressed his sorrow in a statement earlier today. “Our prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones in this awful incident. We are grieving with you.

“To those who have been injured and terrorised, we pray that you find the healing you need. As authorities in NSW investigate the circumstances of the siege, we urge Australians to show compassion and understanding to fellow Australians of the Muslim faith. 

“I wholeheartedly endorse the statements by Australian Muslim leaders yesterday when their faith was wrongly associated with this incident.”

Rev Glenda Blakefield, the Assembly Acting General Secretary also encouraged Australians to be compassionate. “I am very heartened at the spontaneous response so far through various interfaith services and the 'I’ll Ride with You' campaign on social media. This is the kind of openness and sharing we must work hard to nurture and grow in our country.

“We now face a crucial test for interfaith solidarity and I urge Uniting Church members and all Australians to reach out to their Muslim neighbours at this time,”

Rev Myung-Hwa Park, Moderator of the Uniting Church in NSW expressed a desire for peace. “We pray for our community, that we will be closer and we will be tolerant. We stand side by side with people of all faiths, upholding cultural diversity and harmony. Together we will continue to pray for peace as our community grieves.”

May God give us courage to be a people of peace, love and reconciliation.