We have all been shocked by the awful terrorist attack in Christ Church New Zealand. A result of it is that here in Luton and around the world Muslim communities are feeling very vulnerable.
The aim of terrorists is always to separate the community. To polarise people and communities, cause distrust, make them feel they are alone, that the other person does not understand.
However From New Zealand and around the world we are hearing stories of how people are coming together, defying the intent of the terrorist.
Here in Luton, flowers have been distributed to Muslim parents outside one or two schools. Andy Gliddon, curate at St Hugh’s in Lewsey, and his wife Rowena put a great big sign in their window saying “We [heart] our Muslim neighbours.” A day later they had a large delivery of food from the local Peri Peri shop!
Speaking at the vigil outside Luton Town Hall on Monday Peter Adams, speaking for us, said very clearly to our Muslims friends and neighbours in Luton. “You are not alone in this.”
We must look hard at how we can work together to make this town, this nation, a safe place for all, a town where hatred and prejudice cannot stand. A town where all can have hope, and especially where our children can live without fear.
Picking up Andy and Rowena’s lead we have had banners and posters produced with the following message:
We [heart] our Muslim Neighbours.
You are not alone!
From the churches of Luton
Let’s ensure many in the town see that message of love and acceptance at a time when so many are feeling fear.
- Let Peter know if you could use a 2ft X 4ft pvc banner for railings or wherever. These should be with me Friday 22nd and I will do my best to ensure they get out to you Friday. It would be really good to have them up on the week anniversary of the terror attack. (Apologies to those who heard me say they’d be with you tomorrow. The order was too late to make Thursday.)
- We ask that you look to print up the poster and put it on your notice boards. ASAP (attached)
- Also print up some on A4 or A3 for members to place in front windows, or wherever people will see it
- Put details of the posters and banner on your website or in emails so that people can print them themselves. (attached)
- Put the poster graphic on your social media and encourage people to repost it.
We have no doubt this will attract attention. Maybe it will be deliveries of Peri Peri Chicken and Pizza like in Andy’s case! Maybe it will be Samosas! If people are worried about how to respond, the simple message is to say: “Thank you! How are you doing!” Just as you would to any other neighbour feeling vulnerable. Rev David Kesterton and Rev Anne Crosby as well as us are available.
If there are negative reactions to our message from among your own members or neighbours , and you need advice please feel free to contact Peter.
Peter Adams With Rev Joe Piennar
Letter sent on 15th March:
To all the Muslim community of Luton, 15th March 2019
The mosques and their committees
Luton Sunni Council of Mosques
Luton Council of Mosques
We are deeply shocked and grieve with you the terrible assaults on Muslim people at prayer in Christ Church, New Zealand. Nothing can justify the evil acts of those involved. The scale of this disaster is simply awful.
We can also understand the pain and fear this will unleash among Muslim people around the world and especially in western nations, and especially your children and young people.
Faced with the presence in our Luton community over the past ten years and more of extremists that have sought to polarise us, we have stood together to condemn all hatred and bigotry, and grieved together as terrorist acts in the UK and beyond have scandalised our nation. Once again we stand with you.
We would wish that we will not have to do so again. But please be assured that as Christian leaders we are committed to Luton being a place where ALL PEOPLE, whatever their differences, will flourish without fear or favour, and we will stand to oppose any that have a different agenda.
May you know God’s comfort at this time.
Michael Singleton, Chair Churches Together in Luton
and the Executive Committee of Churches Together in Luton
Rev Joe Piennar, St Hugh’s Luton, Area Dean for CofE in Luton
Mnsgr Kevin McGinnel, Priest at Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church, Bury Park, Area Dean for Luton
Rev Julie Bradshaw, Area Dean for Methodist Church Luton
Rev David Fleming, Limbury Baptist Church, representing Baptist Churches in Luton
Rev Anne Crosby, Vicar St Annes and St Christophers Luton
Tony Thompson, Leader Hope Church, Luton
Rev Philip Oladejo, Leader The Lords House Church Luton
Rev Lawrence Fagbeyi, Leader, Gospel Pentecostal Church, Luton
John Whittaker, City Life Church Luton
Sue Penn, Secretary, Churches Together in Luton
Peter Adams, St Marys Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Luton`
Rev David Kesterton, Vicar, All Saints and St Peters, Bury Park
Rev Mike Jones, Vicar St Marys Church Luton
Rev Andrew Gale, Central Baptist Church
Pastor Lloyd Denny, Restoration Revival Fellowship
Marsha Leach, Coordinator, Luton Street Pastors
Jessica Rowlands, Coordinator Luton Town Centre Chaplaincy