The combined Christian churches of Christchurch, represented by Te Raranga, have gifted more than $150,000 to Muslim communities that were the subject of a brutal terrorist attack on March 15.
In addition to that amount, Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin donated $20,000 from the recent Bishop’s Care Appeal, said Christchurch diocese Pastoral Office director Mike Stopforth.
“After the shootings, a pastors and church leaders meeting was held with around 120 church leaders from the city,” he said. “The Te Raranga group was the catalyst for organising the gathering.”
“After the discussion, it was felt a practical way of supporting the Islam community is to take up an offering as money was needed quickly. The huge amounts (of money) given online take time to come through.”
In a letter to Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim of Linwood Masjid and Imam Gamal Fouda of the Masjid Al Noor, the leaders and ministers said $40,000 was gifted to Linwood Masjid (mosque) and $115,000 to the Muslim Association of Canterbury.
“We appreciate that there are often immediate needs and we give you this money so that the families and the communities affected by this recent terrible violence might be assisted. These gifts come from many Christian churches in the city and nation who have asked us to pass them on to you,” the letter said.
The leaders said this was an expression of their long-term commitment to the Muslim community.
Mr Stopforth said the donation was from “the church in Christchurch — not signed by anyone in particular — but a gift from the wider Christian church”.
He said there has been a long association of working with church leaders across the city through Te Raranga which means “the weaving”. Te Raranga was formed after the earthquake to consolidate churches’ recovery and outreach efforts.
“A beautiful spirit exists within the group,” Mr Stopforth noted.
The group held an inter-church non-denominational service of prayer and hope on March 21, at Latimer Square, Christchurch Central, just days after the shootings.
King’s Church pastor Ken Shelley said the gathering was meant to show solidarity with the Christchurch Muslim community.
Anglican Christ Church Cathedral Dean, the Very Rev. Lawrence Kimberley, said they also wanted to give thanks for the bravery of the first responders and to the many people who continue to support those affected by the tragedy.