Danish churches respond to Copenhagen shootings

Bishop of Copenhagen Peter Skov-Jakobsen on twitter

In the early hours after the Copenhagen shootings on February 14 and 15 where two civilians were killed and a number of police officers wounded, several churches in the Copenhagen area and throughout the country marked the events through prayers during Sunday morning worship as well as through hastily organised memorial services.

At Copenhagen Cathedral, Our Lady’s Church, neighbouring the Jewish Synagogue where a young guard and member of the Jewish community in Copenhagen lost his life, the congregation after the morning worship service walked to the Synagogue in order to express solidarity.

During morning hours people had spontaneously gathered in front of the synagogue, placing flowers and candles at the front gate. To this the congregation added the flower decoration from the cathedral altar.

- It is important to us that in spite of religious and political differences we stand shoulder to shoulder as a sign of peaceful coexistence, respect for freedom and democracy, said the cathedral dean Anders Gadegaard to the media present at the site. The Danish authorities believe that the assassin, who was shot dead in the early hours of Sunday, was inspired by radicalised Muslim groups in Copenhagen and the recent events in Paris.

Even though the shootings took place in the capital city of Copenhagen, the events were reflected during worship in other parts of the Country. Pastor Christian Roar Pedersen had prepared a special prayer for his Sunday morning service in the two minor towns of Hals and Hou, Aalborg Diocese, in the very northern part of Jylland:

- Be with our capital in this hour and the days to come. Be with the relatives, those who mourn and those who are scared. We pray for our police officers and all authorities who are working to protect us. Do not let hatred and anger prevail, but teach us not to claim an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Help us to light a candle in the darkness.

There was also time for lighting of candles and quiet reflection at St Jakob’s Church, the parish church near the cultural centre Krudttønden, in Copenhagen where the first shooting took place during a panel discussion on the freedom of expression. A 55 year old participant lost his life at the site. The local pastor Lars Ottosen reflected on the events in his sermon during a worship service that had attracted twice as many as on an ordinary Sunday.

- The understanding of equal value of all human beings, men and women, is fundamental in Christianity, Lars Ottosen said from the pulpit. Baptism is a sign of this. In the eyes of God we are all equal and no man or woman can kill in the name of God. That would be an insult against both God and humans.

The National Council of Churches issued a statement together with Muslim organisations in Denmark on Sunday, renouncing the killings and calling for “reconciliation, compassion and strengthened communities believing that we as God's creatures are all equal human beings”.

Similar thoughts we expressed by the bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen, in a twitter message believed to sum up the thoughts of many Danes during the most disturbing weekend in recent history:
- God bless and comfort those who mourn and give us courage to live in freedom with one another - not against one another.

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