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Healing words . . . Messages left on a memorial wall in Rolleston Ave, Christchurch, Christchurch. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Greta Yeoman

Timaru churches “stand alongside” Muslims in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack on Friday, the Timaru Christian Ministers Association says.

Rev Josh Taylor, who is the chairman of the Timaru Christian Ministers Association, said the inter-church group was “deeply grieved” by what had happened in Christchurch last week.

He thanked fellow association member and Life Church pastor Gordon Rosewell for co-ordinating the community vigil at Caroline Bay on Sunday afternoon.

“As Christians we believe racism is unacceptable and where we are complicit in it we must seek forgiveness and be willing to change.”

The vigil included a minute’s silence, when everyone was invited to face towards Christchurch, and 49 balloons were released in memory of all those killed.

The death toll stood at 50 at noon on Tuesday.

In support . . . Timaru Christian Ministers Association chairman Rev Josh Taylor says the group of church representatives are “deeply grieved” by the Christchurch mosque shootings. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Mr Taylor thanked everyone who came to the vigil.

“It was poignant to have families from the Muslim community represented, too, and see them embraced by the wider community.”

Mr Taylor said the association wanted to “reaffirm our belief in the freedom for all to practise their beliefs” and remind residents that while there were always differences between people, we “share a common humanity”.

“I think these events have unveiled a level of racism in our society and we must all honestly wrestle with that,” Mr Taylor said.

“As Christians we believe racism is unacceptable and where we are complicit in it, we must seek forgiveness and be willing to change.”

He said the Timaru Christian Ministers Association had always been about reconciliation and unity between Christian denominations and this now needed to be extended to other religions.

“I think this same ethos gives us the motivation to reach out and stand alongside people of other faiths.

“It’s time for us as New Zealanders to make an effort to understand.”