Remembering TogetherWednesday 22nd May 2019
Today we mark the second anniversary of the attack on Manchester Arena that saw 22 people loose their lives and hundreds more injured.
We remember all those who died, were injured and bereaved. Our prayers remain with them.
We also give thanks to the emergency responders and healthcare workers who helped and have continued to provide support for all those in need.
This afternoon Bishop John joined other faith leaders at a special service of remembrance for family members at St Ann’s Church, Manchester.
He offered some words at the end of the service about the need to remember those we have lost but also the importance of building a community where we live in peace with our brothers and sisters.
You can read all his words below:
Anniversaries are important. They provide us with an opportunity to be still and review where we are in our response to events and in our learning and planning. As we record the second anniversary of the Manchester Arena Attack, we should rightly take time to recognise at least some of the most important concerns.
As we look back to that awful night, we remember first those directly affected by this outrageous violence. For 22 people, mainly young people, life was lost. For so many others – the injured, families, friends, classmates and colleagues, life was changed and will never be the same. Some must live with the memory of pain and injury. Others must live with a new reality that someone they knew and loved, who should be here with them today, has been taken from them. Adjusting to that reality takes time. Bereavement and loss are different processes for individual people. We must not assume that we can simply “move on” and put this tragedy behind us. Our praiseworthy determination to “be strong” must not blind us to your loss and grieving. We remember you and we wish you all the time that you need, offering you whatever we can to comfort you and help you to heal.
Then we must look at the present moment. Have we responded as best we can to that dreadful event? Following the Manchester Arena attack, there was unity in expressing our revulsion. There was no sense of resignation and helplessness. There was heroic service offered by so many: by the Police, Emergency Services, taxi drivers and bystanders. This was clearly seen and appreciated in the words of many of the local faith leaders and the gathering -particularly – of the Muslim Imams and scholars who processed to St Anne’s Square to pay their respects and show solidarity and who were greeted with applause and appreciation. There were incidents, however, of hate crime in this city and elsewhere, which acknowledged that our community was not united but still affected by prejudice and misunderstanding. There was clearly work to be done which, I believe, has been on-going and is having a positive impact.
Today we must also look to the future. We need to recognise that, while there is good fraternity and collaboration between Faith Leaders, there must also be the constant attention to building better and closer relationships among people of all faiths and none. That is a responsibility and a challenge that confronts and includes every one of us, without exception. Do we, you and I, know our neighbours? Do we greet those who live close by? Do we help them in their need? Do we celebrate with them and share their concerns? Do we form community? Manchester has grown into the powerhouse which it is today because of the skills and labours of people arriving from all over the world. Few of us can claim more than a generation or two of Mancunian ancestry. Yet we are brothers and sisters with responsibilities for this city – our common home. As we look to the future – a future that begins today – we must be determined. We will give better honour to all those who died – and the people who were injured – if we continually work for a society in which everyone is valued, is safe and secure, and where their innate right to dignity is established and maintained. We, the citizens of the Manchester of today, must continue to strive to seek that peace and justice which is the root and foundation of every World Religion. We must do this not just for ourselves but for our children and future generations.
Finally, we must remind ourselves of this truth. Anyone who does violence, who kills or maims indiscriminately in the name of religion, has already betrayed that religion and betrayed every person who follows that religion. They are to be pitied because they have lost their way and alienated themselves from right thinking. By building and strengthening our communities fewer people will be at risk of becoming isolated and radicalised and grow in hatred and alienation.
Today, we acknowledge the sadness and loss suffered by so many. Whatever determination that we may have for the future, we will not forget those who died, who were injured and their families and friends. We pay homage to them and their memory by pledging ourselves to learn from this history and strive to build community where the dignity of every person is valued and respected, where we live in peace as brothers and sisters, where our communities grow stronger because of the diversity of our cultures and traditions, caring for our community and our common home.