10 May 2018

Ascension Day statement on overcoming religious intolerance

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Loraine N Mellor and Jill Baker, have released the following statement to mark Ascension Day, when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven.

The month of May includes a number of important dates in the Christian calendar: Ascension Day, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday all fall within the same month this year.

May 2018 also brings special days for those of other faiths including Shavuot for Jews, Wesak for Buddhists and Ramadan for Muslims.

We welcome these seasons and celebrations and send greetings of peace to our neighbours of all faiths in Britain, praying that this will be a time of deepening understanding of each other’s traditions.

We commend the ongoing work of the Big Iftar and of organisations including the Council of Christians and Jews and the Christian Muslim Forum who seek to build bridges in our communities.

Strong relationships, understanding and tolerance have never been more needed, in a world where intolerance and violence against other faith groups have become all too frequent.

We grieve for the victims of recent violence targeted at Christians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, of the terrorist attack on a church in Bangui, Central African Republic, and of the bombing of a mosque in Khost, Afghanistan.

Sadly, these are only a few among many acts of violence targeted against believers including attacks and abuse directed at minority groups in our own country.

We stand at this time in solidarity with all people of faith who are subject to hatred, abuse and violence because of their beliefs.

All people are made in God’s image and, as we celebrate the ascension of our Lord, we pray that the day will come when no one will be persecuted for their faith.

Loving God, from earliest times you have heard the cry of your children for justice and for peace.

In these days of tension, of difficult remembrances, of competing voices and desperate cries, help us to hear the whisper of your Spirit, calling us to love, to service, to prayer and to compassion.

Open our ears to the voices of those with whom we disagree and our eyes to see how things look to them.

Give us confidence to stretch out our hands across difference and division.

Help us all, Gracious God, to be channels of your grace and your peace, wherever we may be.

Amen.

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