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A Security Message

28th July 2016
Article posted on 28 July 2016 Leave a Comment

To the congregations of St George and St John Newbury,

We, along with all churches across the country, have received correspondence with security advice from the Metropolitan Police following the recent tragic events in Normandy, France in which a priest has been killed in the name of IS.

It would be easy to overreact in response to this awful violence but it is important to hear the more balanced advice in the Deputy Assistant Commissioner’s letter,

Church leaders and their congregations here in the UK should remain alert not alarmed. There is no current intelligence to suggest any attack planning of this nature in this country.  However I know these are troubling times and it makes sense for all church leaders to review their security plans and to encourage their flock to be vigilant. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately through 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321.

Whilst the present risk levels are low, I am getting in touch to inform you of this correspondence and draw your attention to the assurance and advice above. If the security risk levels were to increase for places of worship, we would at that point take steps to increase security at St George’s and St John’s. For now, we are asked simply to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour.

We have excellent relationships with the local Muslim community and I’d like you to know that they are as grieved by these awful acts of terror as we are. Please continue to make the clear distinction between true faith and extremism; we mustn’t forget that awful atrocities have also been carried out by Christians in the name of God through the centuries.

Finally, let’s continue to pray for greater understanding, tolerance and peace across Europe and the Middle East. Rather than the feeling of hopelessness, be reminded of the peace today in places like Northern Ireland and South Africa; in the 1980’s our news media were full of similar stories and images of hate, violence and fear.

Shalom,

Paul

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