Churches around the UK have been praying for the victims of Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London, their families and friends.
Seven people died and 48 were injured when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then went on the rampage stabbing people in bars and in the street. The names of the victims have not been released officially, but it is known that one of those who died was from Canada. People from France, New Zealand and Australia are among the wounded. It was the third terrorist attack in England in three months.
Speaking at Folkestone in Kent yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said, “The terrorists want to divide us. They want to make us hate one another. They want to change our way of life. But just like we saw in Manchester, Londoners are responding with generosity and open hearts... with courage and resilience.”
And he added, “The strongest power in the world is the love of Jesus Christ. It is more powerful than the evil of terror or the profound wickedness of the terrorist.”
In an interview for BBC radio this morning, Archbishop Justin insisted there was no fundamental problem with social cohesion in the UK. And he warned of the dangers of persecuting any group of people on the grounds of their faith alone, rather than what they wanted to do, saying such action would give the terrorists what they were seeking.
The attacks took place just yards from Southwark cathedral. It has been closed as the police and security services continue their investigations.
The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, and the Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn issued a statement:
“The truly shocking events that happened at London Bridge and Borough Market have irrevocably changed the lives of many people and have deeply affected the local community. Our prayers are with all who have been touched by these events. At present Southwark Cathedral remains closed but when we re-open there will be the chance for people to come in and pray and talk to our clergy and chaplains. There will also be books of condolence and a place to leave flowers. Until then we hold all people in our prayers.”
Bishop Christopher also echoed the sentiment of Archbishop Justin, telling reporters that community networks had to mobilise and people of goodwill stand together. He said the terror attack must not undermine ‘the things we cherish most’.
The acting Bishop of London, Pete Broadbent, said Christians' response should be to pray and ‘seek the peace of our city’. He insisted churches would remain open for prayer rather than closing because of security fears.
A vigil is due to take place close to the scene this evening to honour the victims. There will be a minute’s silence at 11am UK time on Tuesday.