Fatal fire touches hearts of London congregation

Angus MacLeod
Rev Angus MacLeod, minister at St Columba's Church of Scotland in London.

A congregation in London is donating money to help people affected by the Grenfell tower block fire.

Rev Angus MacLeod, minister at St Columba’s Church in Knightsbridge, said a proportion of the offering collected this Sunday would go towards a relief fund.

The rest of the money will be donated to support the work and ministry of St Clement and St James’ Church – the Anglican Parish Church in which the building is situated.

So far 30 people are known to have died in the blaze, which broke out in the 24-storey block in the early hours of Wednesday, but that number is expected to rise significantly.

Mr MacLeod said: “The awful fire at Grenfell Tower has shocked and saddened Londoners, whether close to events or witnessing from afar.

“The response to dramatic need has been generous and widespread.

“The community in North Kensington faces massive disruption to normal life and the trauma of the fire itself.

“Council, faith and community groups are confronted with immediate concerns and also the prospect of a long hard road of supporting and sustaining.”

Hope

The Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, is attending Trooping the Colour in London tomorrow and will be preaching at the Anglican Church of St Paul's, Knightsbridge on Sunday.

He said: “Our news has been dominated in these last few days by the aftermath of the terrorist events in London and Manchester, and the unbelievable awfulness of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“There is a sense, for some, that we lurch from one horrific situation to another.

“In this smoke blackened, knife ripped world where is the hope, where is the peace, where is the light, where is the love?

“Our primal need for heat and shelter can sometimes turn into a primal fear of fire and being trapped.

“We are brought back, sometimes with tears, sometimes with pain, sometimes with doubt, to the simple steadiness Jesus, beside us.

“From the darkness light will come, and from the time of death, life will flourish again."

Mr MacLeod said London remained an “extraordinary, vibrant city”.

“But it has been unsettled by recent events – the Westminster and Borough Market attacks,” he added.

Comforted

Mr MacLeod said Dr Neil MacDonald, a member of St Columba’s Church, was called into work to be part of the emergency medical response to the Borough Market attack.

The minister said: “Afterwards Dr MacDonald reflected ‘It was challenging as these things are but the environment is so supportive that we got each other through it.

“’I was a very small cog in the machine.

“’As always I appreciate the support the church provides and I am very proud and comforted to be a member of St Columba’s at times like these”.

A prayer vigil was held at St Luke’s Church in Chelsea on Wednesday evening.

Rector, Reverend Brian Leathard offered Jesus’ words to the disciples ‘And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

“Stay here in the city was his refrain and encouragement; stay next to those in need, those who are suffering.

“Stay in the city as sign of love and solidarity.