LOCAL people and dignitaries gathered outside St Stephen’s Church on Sunday for a special vigil in memory of the victims of the terror bombings in Sr Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Organised by Borough Mayor Juliet Brunner and presided over by her chaplain, the Rev Garth Nathaniel, members of the town’s communities and religious groups gathered together to pay their respects.
People had been asked to wear something white, the colour of mourning in Sri Lanka.
Council leader Matt Dormer addressed those gathered, saying: “It was only a short time ago we gathered to remember the victims of the Christchurch attacks, and here we are again standing together to mark another outrage, this time in Sri Lanka where around 250 people have died and more than 500 have been injured as a result of outrageous terrorist attacks.
“I utterly condemn these attacks and send my sympathies to the victims and their families, as I am sure we all do.
“We can be in no doubt that violent extremism is a problem around the world, and that it can rear its ugly head in any part of the world, in any community, and at any time.
“As we gather here today we stand united against this dangerous extremism in all its forms, showing that Redditch will always stand firm against extremism.”
The leader of the Labour Group on the borough council, Bill Hartnett, added: “Last Sunday was as you all know Easter Sunday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar and some of the terror attacks were in churches while people were at prayer.
“No one should be in fear of being attacked while at prayer.
The terrorists will not win they shall not split or divide us.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka.”
At the end of the service white ribbons were tied to the railings around the church in a symbol of mourning and solidarity.
Speaking after the vigil, Mayor Of Redditch Juliet Brunner said: ”I am thankful that in Redditch we have a proud tradition of all faiths standing shoulder to shoulder sharing the pain and grief we all feel at these times.
“It is my fervent hope that the bond of friendship between our faiths will continue to grow and prosper and become a beacon of light for our communities.”
The speakers included:
Mayor Juliet Brunner who welcomed residents
Chairman of Worcestershire County Council Councillor Brandon Clayton
Leader of Redditch Borough Council Coun Matt Dormer
Leader of Opposition Coun Bill Hartnett
Father Tony Rohan Mt Carmel RC Church
Raf Hussain representative From Muslim community
Iman Hafiz Shazad Ajmal From Masjid Noor Mosque
Mrs Jane Benanti representative Of Jewish Community
Rev Steve Levett Redditch Churches Together
Rev Paul Lawlor Of St Stephens Church.