Standing alongside Christchurch
19 March 2019
The Salvation Army in Christchurch, New Zealand, is providing comfort, support and transport in the wake of the mass shootings at two mosques in the South Island city on 15 March, which claimed at least 50 lives.
A number of centres across the city have opened their doors, with Salvation Army personnel making themselves available to anyone needing to connect in order to process personal reactions to the tragedy.
Salvationists from Linwood Corps, situated very close to the mosque where the second attack took place, maintained a presence outside their building and are connecting with members of the public who are entering the restricted zone to pay respects.
Sydenham, Rolleston and Christchurch North corps members are offering support from within their buildings. Rolleston has also made available a room to support the response of the local school counsellor.
Captain Lindsay Andrews, Divisional Emergency Services Coordinator, after a request from Christchurch Airport Authorities and in consultation with Chief Family Liaison Officer within the Police, will coordinate an increased presence of Salvation Army personnel at Christchurch Airport.
This response is providing culturally sensitive support to family members of the deceased and others arriving in Christchurch. It is likely that this response will continue for the coming week.
Salvationists around Australia attended events over the weekend to support their Muslim neighbours and oppose hate and division.
Commissioner Andy Westrupp, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army’s New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory, issued the following statement after the attack earlier this week:
“The Salvation Army stands with our Muslim brothers and sisters today, and totally condemns this unprecedented act of violence in Christchurch towards people who were peacefully at worship.
“The horror of these attacks reminds us of our shared humanity and the urgent need to stand for love and peace. Everyone will do that in their own way, some by praying, as we will. The response of caring for others is another way - this is also the path that our faith calls us to. But regardless of religious belief, caring is a response that we can all share.
“We think of all those in Christchurch today who will be feeling anxious and grief-stricken. You are not alone. We stand with you.”