Uniting Church mourns Sydney siege

The Uniting Church in Australia mourns the deaths of those caught up in the hostage-taking incident in a café in Sydney’s Martin Place. Rev Myung-Hwa Park, Moderator of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT, has offered prayers and condolences on behalf of the Church.

“We continue to pray for those caught up in the terrible events at Martin Place yesterday and today,” said Myung-Hwa.

“Our thoughts are with the families of those who have been lost in this tragic event. We commend and thank our police, emergency services and community leaders for their strength in handling such a difficult situation.

“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,” said Myung-Hwa.

NSW Police have confirmed that three people including the hostage-taker were killed and four others injured when police stormed the Lindt Café in Martin Place in the early hours of today. The police intervention ended a 16-hour siege during which a man with a shotgun took hostages. The hostage-taker has since been identified as a self-styled Islamic cleric facing serious criminal changes.

“Our prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones in this awful incident. We are grieving with you,” said Uniting Church in Australia President, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney.

“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,” said Andrew.

The UCA Assembly Acting General Secretary responsible for Relations with Other Faiths Rev Glenda Blakefield has welcomed the response by those already demonstrating compassion.

“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,” said Glenda.

The Uniting Church will be coordinating ecumenical chaplaincy supporting workers in the Sydney CBD from today through the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, alongside other state agencies.

The Uniting Church is looking to schedule an interfaith memorial service in the CBD in coming days.

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