Westminster Abbey held a special ‘Service of Hope’ following the terror attack which took place in London on 22nd March 2017. The service, was attended by Their Royal Highnesses-The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Home Secretary-the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police-Craig Mackey, incoming Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Labour Party Leader-Jeremy Corbyn, Commons Speaker-John Bercow, Mayor of London-Sadiq Khan, together with families of those killed in the attack, other victims, witnesses and first responders from the police, fire, paramedics, RNLI, lifeboat and NHS hospital services. The major denominations and faiths in the United Kingdom and two hundred diplomatic representatives from across the world also attended the moving memorial service remembering victims.
The ‘Service of Hope’ comes exactly two weeks to the day after Kent-born terrorist Khalid Masood ploughed a car along Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament. Members of the congregation were given candles as they arrived at Westminster Abbey which were lit as prayers were said.
The Dean of Westminster-The Very Reverend Dr John Hall told the congregation: “We are all affected by the attack a fortnight ago on Westminster Bridge and at the gates of the Palace of Westminster, and we are all left bewildered and disturbed. But our sense of loss and diminishment is paled by comparison with that of the families of those who died: Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran and Leslie Rhodes on the bridge, and Police Constable Keith Palmer on duty at the gates of Parliament, and all those who were injured. Our hearts go out to them in sympathy and prayer and love.”
Dr Hall continued: “We stand together just as in this service the world faiths are represented and we will pray together above all for the gift of hope. Our prayer and commitment is to live together peacefully and respectfully rich in our diversity and to sing together in harmony. What could possibly motivate a man to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then drive it fast at people he had never met, couldn’t possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely that we shall never know. What happened a fortnight ago leaves us bewildered”.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave the first reading at the service from Jeremiah 31: 15-17, reflecting the service’s theme of hope. The second reading was made by Prince William, who gave a Bible reading from Luke, Chapter 10 about the Good Samaritan.
The Home Secretary Ms Amber Rudd also paid tribute to Londoners, saying: “Today’s service of hope marks two weeks since a cowardly attacker tried, and failed, to divide the people and the communities of London and cause us to live in fear and suspicion. But we were not cowed and we did not give in to terror”.
Anil Bhanot OBE-Hindu Council UK’s Director of Interfaith Relations represented the Hindu Council UK and said “It was a beautiful service with readings from the Bible and other faiths of God’s love for all humanity. The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall gave a poignant sermon explaining more fully what the Duke of Cambridge Prince William reminded us of the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible. PC Jaskaran Garcha quoted from the Sikh faith, covering all the Dharmic Faiths in her choice of words, ‘The Creation is in the Creator, and the Creator is in the Creation, totally pervading and permeating all places’. Thus when we attack others we attack our own part shared in the spirit of God. Each and every Atma, Soul, is a part in the ParamAtma, God who is beyond the sum of all parts which exist of this universe, visible and invisible – Rig.Veda.
The speakers who performed readings and prayers included London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Met Police Commander Mak Chishty, Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Hosseini Milani, PC Jaskaran Garcha, the Reverend Anthony Ball, as well as prayers from multi-faith leaders and ambassadors. The service ended with the congregation jointly singing the National Anthem.
The mood at the service was both sombre and resolute about how all of the public services worked together, how the systems that keeps this city, our capital city, moving, worked together. London saw the worst of humanity with the terror attack, but we also saw the best of humanity, coming together, and we saw that again today, in renewed resolution, and solidarity with the families.
(Wednesday 5th April 2017 – Hindu Council UK)