A vigil on Takapuna Beach in memory of the victims of the Christchurch Mosque shootings. Photo / Chris Loufte
AUCKLAND CHURCH LEADERS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND (ACL)
Joint Statement by Auckland Church Leaders
The recent massacre at the mosques in Christchurch has brought deep grief to New Zealand. As Auckland church leaders we condemn this evil attack and are shocked and horrified that such an atrocity should take place in our nation. We are equally horrified that it should be perpetrated in a place of prayer and worship, when freedom to worship is cherished in New Zealand. How shocking this violence should happen in a city called “Christchurch” as this act goes against everything that Jesus Christ stood for and that the church stands for.
As a Christian community we welcome, support and embrace all who live peaceably in Aotearoa New Zealand. We remember that Jesus Christ spent his early years as a migrant/refugee in Egypt and so we celebrate all who have come to New Zealand looking for freedom, safety and greater opportunities for their families. Our national anthem says it so well:
God of Nations, at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet….
Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face….
From dissension, envy, hate
And corruption guard our State,
Make our country good and great
God defend New Zealand
These words take on fresh and deeper meaning as we stand in solidarity with those who grieve the loss of their loved ones.
To the Muslim community in New Zealand we say that you are welcomed and loved as we share life in this great nation. This is your home too.
We pray for healing in the midst of deep sorrow. We pray for all families and friends impacted by such hate and intolerance. We pray this horrible tragedy will not divide us, but rather bring us together in strength, compassion and common humanity.
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Prepared by Auckland Church Leaders:
Rt Rev Ross Bay, Anglican Bishop of Auckland ♦ Pastor Tak Bhana, Senior Pastor, Church Unlimited ♦ Pastor Paul de Jong, Senior Pastor, LIFE ♦ Pastor Jonathan Dove, Senior Pastor, Greenlane Christian Centre ♦ Most Rev Patrick Dunn, Catholic Bishop of Auckland ♦ Majors Ian & Liz Gainsford, Divisional Leaders, The Salvation Army ♦ Mr David Goold, on behalf of the Christian Community Churches of NZ (serving the Open Brethren) ♦ Pastor Ken Harrison, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Church , Papakura AOGNZ ♦ Pastor Dr Brian Hughes, Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel ♦ Rev Dr Stuart Lange, Interim National Director, NZ Christian Network ♦ Rev Kok Soon Lee, Auckland Chinese Churches Association ♦ Rev Andrew Marshall, National Director, Alliance Churches of New Zealand ♦ Very Rev Anne Mills, Dean, Auckland Cathedral of the Holy Trinity ♦ Rev Steve Millward, Moderator, Northern Presbytery, Presbyterian Church ♦ Pastor Bruce Monk, International Overseer for Acts Churches & Equippers ♦ Pastor Sam Monk, Senior Pastor, Equippers Church & Acts National Leader ♦ Pastor Peter Mortlock, Senior Pastor, City Impact Church ♦ Pastor Lloyd Rankin, National Director, Vineyard Churches ♦ Pastor Boyd Ratnaraja, National Leader, Elim Church of New Zealand ♦ Pastor Dean Rush, Senior Leader, C3 Church Auckland ♦ Pastor Jim Shaw, New Life Churches Executive team ♦ Rev Paul Talluri, on behalf of the Church of the Nazarene ♦ Bishop Brian Tamaki, Destiny Churches New Zealand ♦ Pastor Allan Taylor, Northern Baptist Association ♦ Pastor Ben Timothy, President, North New Zealand Conference, Seventh-day Adventist Church ♦ Rev Dr Richard Waugh, National Superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand ♦ Rev Graeme White, Auckland Synod Superintendent, Methodist Church of New Zealand
A mourner lights a candle during a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. (Vincent Yu/Associated Press)
NATIONAL CHURCH LEADERS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND (NCLANZ)
Joint Statement by National Church Leaders
The National Church Leaders gathered in Wellington today (Tuesday 19th March) to express their profound horror at the terrible violence towards Muslim people in Christchurch mosques last Friday. We are deeply saddened by these tragic events and we strongly condemn these acts of racial hatred and murder. We feel very deeply for our fellow New Zealand faith community, which was so cruelly attacked as worshippers peacefully gathered for prayer.
We extend our prayerful and heartfelt sympathy to the Muslim community here in New Zealand, and around the world. The whole Christian church community in New Zealand is praying for the Muslim community: praying for the healing of the wounded, comfort for the bereaved, and for God’s peace upon all who have been traumatised.
At this time of deep shock, grief, and anxiety, we ask and pray for all New Zealanders to stand united, to have great love and compassion, and to show unfailing respect and kindness for all people who live in this society of Aotearoa New Zealand, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation. We believe there is absolutely no room for racial hatred in our land, and we are determined that we must stand together as one people, united as human beings created by God, and as fellow New Zealanders. May goodness overcome evil, and peace and goodwill prevail.
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Rev Dr Bruce Allder, District Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene ♦ Pastor Steve Burgess, Regional Overseer, C3 Churches ♦ Cardinal John Dew, Catholic Church of New Zealand ♦ Pastor Iliafi Esera, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God New Zealand ♦ Rev Tale Hakeagaiki, Chairman, Congregational Union of New Zealand ♦ Pastor Dr Brian Hughes, Regional Leader, Calvary Chapel Association ♦ Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand ♦ Rev Dr Stuart Lange, Interim National Director, New Zealand Christian Network ♦ Pastor Brent Liebezeit, President, Christian Churches New Zealand ♦ Rev Andrew Marshall, National Director, Alliance Churches of New Zealand ♦ Pastor Peter Mortlock, Senior Pastor, City Impact Church ♦ Pastor Lloyd Rankin, National Director, Vineyard Churches ♦ Pastor Boyd Ratnaraja, National Leader, Elim Churches ♦ Archbishop Philip Richardson, Archbishop & Primate, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia ♦ Pastor Eddie Tupai, President, New Zealand Pacific Union of the Seventh Day Adventist Church ♦ Rev Craig Vernall, National Leader, Baptist Churches in New Zealand ♦ Rev Setaita Taumoepeau K. Veikune, President, Methodist Church of New Zealand ♦ Rev Dr Richard Waugh, National Superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand ♦ Commissioner Andrew Westrupp, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army ♦ Pastor Adam White, National Leader, New Life Churches International ♦ Bishop Mark Whitfield, Lutheran Church of New Zealand ♦ Lesley Young, Yearly Meeting Clerk, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
The New Zealand Christian Network has expressed horror and great sadness about the violent attacks today on Muslim people and mosques in Christchurch.
A spokesperson for the network, Dr Stuart Lange, said the attacks are “utterly appalling” and will be deplored by all New Zealand people of all faiths or none.
The network urges people to pray for all the families and communities which will be deeply affected, and to offer them support in every way possible.
Speak for those who cannot speak; seek justice for all those on the verge of destruction.
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and oppressed.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (ISV)
Discrimination, restrictions on the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief, and religiously motivated violence are on the rise. These have become, and have always been, the norm in the life and witness of the Church in most parts of the world today.
Being a voice for over 600 million evangelicals, how is the WEA responding to the ever-increasing threats to religious liberty?
Inspired by Proverbs 31:8-9, the WEA Geneva Liaison Office began to actively engage the United Nations (UN) Human Rights mechanisms in 2012 in defence of human rights, and predominately, the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief. The office’s aim is to foster structural changes in countries where our national Evangelical Alliances work, to strengthen the rule of law, to advance the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief, and ultimately, to enable an environment for a more vibrant Christian witness.
Why is a UN presence important?
As surprising as it may seem, the WEA Geneva Liaison Office is the only evangelical representative body advocating for religious freedom on behalf of the more than 600 million evangelicals at the UN in Geneva! And regularly, States that persecute or discriminate against religious minorities have to defend their human rights record at the UN’s Human Rights Council. By relaying the voices of national Evangelical Alliances, the WEA has a unique contribution to bring to the conversation.
In a recent article, Wissam al-Saliby reflected on what evangelical engagement with the UN means when it comes to advocacy for religious freedom, and explained more in detail how WEA’s voice can be of influence in this unique context:
Rights over Might: The United Nations, Religious Freedom and Our Role and Responsibility
What does WEA’s Geneva Liaison Office do?
The main tool available is to submit reports to various Geneva-based UN Human Rights mechanisms including the regular Human Rights Council sessions, the Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Committee and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These reports would relay the information provided by WEA member Alliances.
The following are examples of reports submitted over the course of this year:
- Malaysia: Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Safety of the Christian Minority, addressing the use of the word “Allah” by Christians, the wellbeing and safety of all religious workers, and rising hostility against Christians
- Bhutan: Freedom of Religion or Belief, addresses ongoing criminalization of religious “coercion or inducement,” the registration of religious organizations and discrimination against Christians
- Central African Republic: Action in Support of National Reconciliation and Respect for Human Rights, submitted jointly with a host of partners, in French
- Sri Lanka: Persistence of Religiously Motivated Violence, Intimidation, and Discrimination, submitted jointly with the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
- Algeria: Freedom of Religion or Belief (also available in French), submitted jointly with the Protestant Church of Algeria and other partners, and addressing namely Churches and Protestant institutions shut down by the government and the trials and arrests of Christian leaders since November 2017
- Sudan: Ongoing Imprisonment and Intimidation of Church Leaders, Confiscation and Destruction of Church Property, submitted jointly with Middle East Concern, and addressing recent demolition of church properties, unlawful confiscation and sale of church properties, and the arrest and harassment of church leaders
Visit their website for additional reports and written submissions to United Nations mechanisms.
Delivering oral statements at the Human Rights Council
In addition to reports and written submissions, the WEA delivers oral updates at the regular sessions of the Human Rights Council.
The following are some of the recent oral statements that are also available on WEA’s YouTube channel:
Watch additional videos of WEA interventions at the Human Rights Council.