A Message For Remembrance Sunday

11 November 2023

From the Executive Committee of the General Assembly of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches, following their meeting on Friday 10th November 2023:

As Unitarians and Free Christians, we observe with horror the unfolding events in Israel and Gaza since the terrorist outrages of October 7th. 

We want to express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the victims of these attacks, which no justification can ever excuse, including those still held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, and with the Israeli people. We pray for all victims, all bereaved families and all hostages still in captivity. We note with great alarm the rise of antisemitism in Britain and elsewhere and pray for peace in our communities and amongst peoples and nations, expressing our solidarity with Jews in the UK and around the world.

While we acknowledge the first responsibility of any nation to defend its citizens, we also deeply regret the huge loss of life amongst the innocent people of Gaza and urge the international community to support measures to protect civilians and to prevent the escalation of conflict in the region. We want to express too our deepest sympathy to these Palestinian victims of war. We also note with deep concern the rise of Islamophobia in our own society at this time and express our solidarity with the Muslim community here in the UK and elsewhere.

Our deepest hope and prayer is that the hostages will be released, all acts of terror will cease, and all military conflict and violence between Israelis and Palestinians will end. No conflict, however deeply entrenched and seemingly intractable, is inevitable or unstoppable. We continue to pray and work for a world of peace – and in the meantime to do all that we can to support the civilians, particularly children, the elderly and the vulnerable, who are the victims of terror, conflict and war.

At a local level in our congregations and communities, we have been offering and supporting events and projects which bring people together in dialogue, solidarity and peace-making, such as the ‘Peace of Cake’ initiative at Lewisham Unity in south London – started by a local Muslim mum in 2015 in the wake of the anti-Muslim attacks in Paris and attended by people from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities.

Here is a prayer from Vince McCully, President of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, who will be representing our community at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Westminster:

We pray for the people of Gaza and Israel. The very thought that such atrocities can be justified and meted out to another person, let alone that the victims are innocent civilians, is beyond comprehension.  Thousands of people have already been killed, many more maimed and injured.

Dear God, in the name of all that is holy and good, please restore peace to all sides without delay. To kill is not even a last resort, it is simply a sign of humankind’s utter failure to understand anything about God’s will.