A group of people from different faith backgrounds joined in a ‘Together for Humanity’ prayer vigil for peace outside Gloucester Cathedral, hosted by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.
Bishop Rachel said, “As we continue to watch the events in the Middle East, we mourn the loss of all those who have been killed in Israel and Palestine, and we long for the suffering and pain to cease, and for there to be peace.
“As well as feeling angry, turbulent and anxious, many people are feeling hopeless and powerless, and sadly in recent months there has been an unprecedented rise in antisemitism, islamophobia and hate in the UK. Therefore there was a special Together for Humanity vigil in Gloucester.
Following the ‘success’ of the vigils in London in November and December, Together for Humanity asked people across the UK to stand with them on 21 January for a day of Building Bridges across the country. Here in Gloucester, a short vigil took place outside the Cathedral on the evening before.
The aim was to provide a space for people of all ages, backgrounds, faiths and philosophies to come together to remember all those who have lost their lives in the conflict in Palestine and Israel, to show solidarity for all civilians suffering – both Israeli and Palestinian – and to share a vision of hope that people of different backgrounds and faiths can live in peace alongside each other, here in the UK and around the world.
There were representatives from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths at the event, joining together to show their commitment to peace.
The service began with these words
“We come from scattered lives and diverse experiences;
we come from different faiths and philosophies;
we come with our pain and our frustrations;
we come with a resolve to see the humanity in each other;
we come with a single hope:
we hope for peace.”
Two mothers – one Jewish and one Muslim – read ‘Prayer of Mothers for Life and Peace’ written in 2014 by Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims.
They prayed, “And with my tears and prayers which I pray and with the tears of all women who deeply feel the pain of these difficult days I raise my hands to you please God have mercy on us, hear our voice that we shall not despair, that we shall see life in each other, that we shall have mercy for each other, that we shall have pity on each other, that we shall hope for each other.”
They ended the vigil with a commitment ” as people of different faiths and philosophies, to work together for the common good, uniting to build a better society, grounded in values and ideals we share: community, personal integrity, a sense of right and wrong, learning, wisdom and love of truth, care and compassion, justice and peace, respect for one another, for the earth and its creatures. We commit ourselves, in a spirit of friendship and co-operation, to work together alongside all who share our values and ideals, to help bring about a better world now and for generations to come”.
After the vigil, people moved to the Cathedral to light candles and spend time in quiet reflection or prayer.