French Consul General joins services for peace after Paris attacks

Photo credit: People, clouds and triumph by Jose Maria Cuellar. You can find more of his Paris photos on Flickr.

The Moderator of the General Assembly says peacemaking has never been more urgent following the atrocities in Paris which have left hundreds of people dead and seriously injured. The Church has come together in response to the terrible events to pray for the victims and show support for all those affected.

The French Consul General, Emmanuel Cocher, and Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, will join the congregation at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday. Special prayers will be said there, as well as at the Scots Kirk in Paris and many other congregations here and abroad. Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison says the thoughts and prayers of the Church are with the people of France.

"News of the latest terrorist attacks in France have shocked and appalled us all. It is impossible to comprehend the mindset that leads people to perpetrate such indiscriminate barbarity against their fellow human beings. There can be no possible justification for such wicked acts which sadly reveal humanity at its very worst.

My heart - and I speak for us all in the Church of Scotland - goes out in deepest sympathy to all who have lost family members and friends and to those who have been injured in this atrocity. We hold them in our thoughts and prayers as we continue with renewed determination to work and pray for the coming of God's Kingdom of justice and peace in all the world.

Such assaults are an attack on us all and on the values we cherish. In our divided world the task of peacemaking has never been more important."

The Moderator is currently attending anniversary celebrations at St Andrew's church in Brussels. He has contributed a specially written prayer which can be used by congregations seeking to reflect on the tragedy during church services and acts of remembrance.

St Giles Cathedral minister, Rev Calum MacLeod, will include special prayers for those affected by the unfolding tragedy as well as holding a minute's silence during the 1130am service on Sunday morning. Speaking of the need to make some kind of response to the events in Paris, he said

"We are pleased to welcome the Consul General and the Deputy First Minister to the Cathedral. So many people are shocked by this example of man's inhumanity to man. We will be praying for the relief of those who are suffering and hoping for a time of constructive peacemaking. The act of remembrance at St Giles will be an act of solidarity with all who deal with the effects of terrorism. We trust that with the Consul General's presence the people of France will be made aware of the concern the people of Scotland have for the enduring relationship between our countries."

Prayers will also be said at the Scots Kirk in central Paris, which expects to be open as normal tomorrow morning. The Church will welcome its congregation, as well as members of affiliated churches from Korea and Sri Lanka. Rev Jim Cowie provided support and comfort to those affected by the previous attacks in January. Faced with the latest atrocity, he said

"We are devastated by what has happened. Our prayers are for the victims and their families and all affected by these senseless acts of violence. At tomorrow's service we shall light a candle of remembrance and pray for comfort and peace."

The French President, Francois Hollande, has declared three days of national mourning for the victims. The Prime Minister David Cameron has warned of the expectation some of those affected will be British citizens. The Church prays for those communities who will be touched as the full magnitude of this unfolding tragedy becomes clear in the coming days.

'Turn away from evil and do good;strive for peace with all your heart' (Psalm 34:14, Good News Version)