<p “story-body__introduction”>The two bomb blasts targeted worshippers attending church services in Lahore on Sunday 15 March 2015 and killed at least 14 people, injuring more than 70. <p “story-body__introduction”>Bishop Jamil opened the call by thanking the Anglican Communion for their ongoing prayers and support. Directly after the attacks, Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Interim General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, sent condolences to Bishop Jamil and the community. <p “story-body__introduction”>Messages of love and support have flooded in, and churches and agencies around the Anglican Communion are working together to ensure an effective and coordinated practical response as well as continued prayer. In the immediate aftermath, Bishop Jamil and his team have been visiting the bereaved and those injured by the bomb blasts. These visits continued around Holy Week and Easter, as the Bishop sought to relieve the suffering of those caught up in this trauma. Episcopal Relief and Development has sent a solidarity grant to enable the Church to respond to those in need following the attacks. <p “story-body__introduction”>A joint funeral service was held by the United (Anglican) and Roman Catholic churches for the victims. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined the service by phone and his prayers were translated and shared with the mourners. <p “story-body__introduction”>Bishop Jamil inspired those on the Anglican Alliance call with his emphasis on the role of church leaders in building peace, harmony and mutual understanding and with his message to the Anglican Communion to continue to stand alongside the Church in Pakistan in these times of trauma. <p “story-body__introduction”>Three priorities were outlined by the Bishop as the Church continues its response to those affected by the attacks. The first is to build the capacity of the church in security so its poeple can be better protected; the second is to deliver culturally-appropriate trauma counselling for those most affected; and the third to build the communications capacity of the Church to respond effectively to media requests and keep the rest of the Anglican Communion informed. <p “story-body__introduction”>A coalition of Anglican churches and agencies will work with the Church in Lahore to strengthen its capacity in these areas, with participants on the call offering their experience and expertise, connecting the Church in Lahore with wider development partners. Those on the call expressed their gratitude and respect for the witness shown by the Church in Pakistan at this time.
Bishop Jamil also put forward priorities for prayer, asking especially for prayer in these areas:
- For bereaved families, especially those who have lost children;
- For the sick and those with long-term, life-changing injuries;
- For senior leadership in the church and their families: that those responding to the needs of the community would be strengthened and that they would also be able to find rest to recover;
- For local leadership and the communities living together in Lahore; that justice and wisdom would lead them to build mutual understanding and peace;
- For the law to be upheld;
- For people involved in terrorism to turn to peace;
- For peace to reign.
<p “story-body__introduction”>Attending the call were representatives from the Anglican Board of Mission – Australia, the Anglican Communion Office, CMS-Asia and CMS-UK, the Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief & Development, the Mothers’ Union, and the Diocese of Manchester, UK, which is a companion link diocese with Lahore. <p “story-body__introduction”>A delegation of headteachers from schools in Manchester had recently returned from visiting Lahore, and were there when the bombs hit. Despite the trauma of the situation the delegation remained in Lahore, and noted the faith and resilience of those in the diocese. A member of the Manchester Diocese team said: “The companion link we hold with the Diocese of Lahore is now stronger than ever in the face of the events, and we continue to hold them all in our prayers.” <p “story-body__introduction”>On Good Friday (3 April 2015) the Diocese of Lahore held a day in prayer and reflection for those who died. Bishop Jamil has called on the wider Anglican Communion to join his diocese in continuing to pray for resolute faith and steadfast commitment to the work of God and the church in Pakistan. <p “story-body__introduction”>In the picture: Mourners gather for the funeral of the victims of Lahore’s church bombings in March. <p “story-body__introduction”>Credit: Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan. <p “story-body__introduction”>More news and pictures on the Facebook page of the Diocese of Raiwind. <p “story-body__introduction”>