London elders in deeper understanding talks

London Bridge
Floral tributes at London Bridge. Kate Shannon Green

Kirk leaders in London are to hold talks with an Islamic faith leader to better understand why UK-raised Muslims are being radicalised and launching “senseless and cruel“ attacks on civilians.

Elders at St Columba’s Church in Knightsbridge have invited Imam​ Faiz Qureshy to come and talk about his faith on July 1 to help people reflect on the complex background behind the attacks in the Capital.

He is based at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, London, the oldest mosque in the UK established in 1889.

The atmosphere at services held by the Church of Scotland’s two congregations in London yesterday was largely sombre and reflective as people tried to come to terms with a terrorist attack in the city 12 hours earlier.

Senseless

Seven people were killed when three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a knife attack in Borough Market.

They injured a total of 48 people before being shot dead by police.

Rev Andrea Price, associate minister at St Columba’s Church, said there was a profound sense of shock and sadness among the congregation.

She added that minister, Rev Angus MacLeod, led prayers and read out a reflection on the incident written by Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning.

London
Kate Shannon Green

Mrs Price said: “People are stunned by what happened on Saturday night, so soon after the Manchester attack.

“For me there was a strange atmosphere during the service yesterday because it was a complete tapestry of contrasts.

“We had two Baptisms, it was Pentecost which should be a happy occasion for the Church, and the unfolding news of the totally senseless and cruel attack.

“The service was very subdued but we must have belief in the face of evil and draw on the strength of God to stand up against the brutality meted out on each other in the name of faith.”

Mrs Price said the church was not as busy as usual due to complications with travel arrangements linked to the attack and the half-term school holiday.

“Although it was a peculiar day, we had a very good service and it was clear that the Holy Spirit was working beautifully,” she added.

God

Rev Philip Majcher, minister of Crown Court Church in Covent Garden, said the closure of London Bridge Station affected attendance at the two services held yesterday.

“Those who were in church were shocked and concerned but determined to go on doing what they normally do as life has to go on,” he added.

“At both the morning and evening service we prayed for the families of the dead and also for all those who had been injured and traumatised.

“In my morning sermon I said ‘if we in our turn hate those whom we feel hate us then we are no better than those who seek our destruction.

‘Indeed we are worse, as we know that we cannot hate our brother or sister and still claim to love God'.

Prayers for all those affected by the attack in London were said at Church of Scotland services across the country and further afield yesterday.

London lights
Kate Shannon Green

Peace

Meanwhile, a Muslim faith leader has attended a meeting, arranged some time ago, at Broughton St Mary’s Church in Edinburgh.

Minister, Rev Graham McGeoch, invited Annandale Mosque’s Shaykh Hassan Rabbani to address the congregation during the celebration of Pentecost, which marks the founding of the Church.

The religious leader reflected that people of all faiths seek peace and solace in their religion, and said that genuine Muslims are disturbed by those who practice violence in the name of Islam.