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Greetings in the name of peace.
The past two weeks have been very challenging for us as we have learned of the very disturbing and painful discovery of 215 buried children in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and then the heinous, disgusting murderous attack on a beautiful, loving, caring, faithful Muslim family in London On.
The following article was published by The United Church of Canada on June 6, 2021.
The United Church of Canada strongly condemns the horrific hate-filled attack that killed three generations of a Muslim family in London, Ontario on Sunday, June 6.
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15‒16a). Many people in the United Church are weeping alongside the extended families and friends of the family members who were killed and injured in this premeditated hate crime and are grieving the innocent lives lost in this abhorrent attack. People in the church are also pained that some in the Muslim community feel alienated and more fearful for their lives and well-being as a result of this xenophobic and deadly assault. It is particularly distressing that such terrorist attacks re-traumatize Muslim people, who hold in their collective consciousness the murders of Muslim’s at mosques in Quebec City in 2017, in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019 and in Toronto in 2020
The United Church recognizes Islam as a religion of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion and has affirmed that the church wants to journey toward reconciliation, understanding, and cooperation with our Muslim neighbours. The church is deeply committed to working with Muslims and others for peace and justice for all humanity and to seeking ways to build right relationships among us. The church’s study, “ That We May Know Each Other: United Church-Muslim Relations Today” encourages “seeing Muslims as neighbours, as friends, and most of all as people whom God has called to faithfulness.”
The church joins with people across the country in condemning these attacks of overt hatred, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee, the Ontario Human Rights’ Commission, the Prime Minister of Canada, and many political leaders.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, which also tracks anti-Muslim incidents, has documented 322 hate crimes between 2013 and 2019. According to Statistics Canada, between 2015 and 2019, there was a 14 percent increase in police-reported hate crimes against Muslims.
The United Church decries a White supremacist system and culture that allows feelings of racial, cultural, and religious superiority to flourish and that enables such heinous hate crimes to occur. The church’s anti-racism policy, “That All May Be One” declares that “we believe that we are all equal before God.” The United Church therefore reaffirms its commitment to anti-racism, to engaging in interfaith dialogue, and to speaking out against violence and discrimination rooted in racial superiority, including Islamophobia.
The Moderator of the United Church has condemned the attacks and offered prayers People in the United Church are also invited to pray, to engage in acts of solidarity with Muslim neighbours, to take concrete actions to combat Islamophobia, and to participate in community vigils to honour the lives of those affected.
We pray for peace among all peoples; God, hear our prayer
I find it a very saddening experience to witness through history books, and to witness current events of people warring against people. Each time one group raises violence against another to serve their own agenda, be it greed for resources, ideological, doctrinal or political polarization, our world moves further away from God's vision of a peaceable kingdom.
I believe we are all called to something greater than we are now as a world community. We are called to reach out beyond the divides that separate us and allow God's love to free us. It's a call to everyone: Christian, Indigenous, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Sikh or Zen, we are all God's beloved, called to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
"When hands reach out beyond divides and hope is truly found, each chain of hate will fall away and bells of peace shall sound. When fear no longer guides our steps and days of war are done, God's dream for all shall live anew; our hearts will heal as one. When race and creed blind us no more, a neighbour's face we'll see, and we shall dance the whole world round, for love will set us free."
These words written by Keri Wehlander are from the hymn "When Hands Reach Out Beyond Divides" which is found in our More Voices hymn book page 169. They paint such a hopeful picture of the possibility for God's vision of peace to be lived out in this world. My hopes and prayers invite all people to this way. I offer this prayer.
A Prayer for Diversity
God of all peoples.....We pray for your listening ear and for our words of embrace. We acknowledge and celebrate that you are beyond the power of knowledge and thought, yet you have made yourself known in every age and every place, and you have never left people without signs of your truth and your presence. God beyond all names, yet of many names, we give thanks for the different ways that you have communicated your truth to all of humanity, and for the traditions of faith through which people are able to express their vision of your reality, love, and presence. God beyond time limits, as history unfolds and our world seems to become a smaller place, we give thanks for the opportunities for meeting people of different faiths, yet a common love. We pray, give us the faith to respect each other’s traditions, the openness to be receptive to each other’s wisdom, the integrity to be true to our own faith while affirming that of our neighbour, and the love that recognizes our common humanity way beyond labels and categories. Affirm in us all that we feel, think, and speak to build a world that may create a future based on truth and reconciliation, peace, justice, and the well-being of all your creation. Amen. (Ted Smith 2015)
I continue to bid you peace in the midst of pandemic. PT
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