Gay vicar creates a moving tribute to Orlando victims
A gay London vicar has put a memorial to victims of the Orlando massacre at the heart of his church.
At least 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in the shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando over the weekend.
With more than a hundred now confirmed dead or injured, the shooting is the worst in American history.
The horrific incident has sparked a strong response from the LGBT community, political leaders and faith leaders around the world.
Following the tragedy, Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain – vicar of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn and St James West Hampstead – put a moving memorial at the heart of St James’ following the incident.
It includes both the US flag and a Pride flag, with candles and a poem written by Rachel Mann in memory of the victims.
The poem reads in part: “We cry out for peace and respect in a violent world/we commit ourselves to unconditional love.
“We stand in furious solidarity with queer people/in Orlando and around the world/ and ask, ‘How Long, O Lord?’
“O Fierce Indwelling Love/may your passion for justice, mercy and love/ make us unafraid of the other within/ and joyous in our celebration of your Rainbow People.”
Both the rainbow flag and the trans flag are also proudly flying from the church.
Don’t think I’ve ever laid a newspaper in front of a church altar before as an act of reverence @churchnw6 #Orlandopic.twitter.com/G0LcDv2gZm
Father Foreshew-Cain added: “If you’re local and would like to light a candle or do some silence, do come along.”
The vicar is a member of the Church of England’s General Synod and a passionate supporter of LGBT rights within the Church – defying bishops to tie the knot with his husband in 2014.
In the wake of the attacks, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury released a joint statement which says: “After Sunday’s attack in Orlando, as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
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“The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.
“Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.”
However, Archbishop of York John Sentamu confirmed the Church of England will continues to oppose equal marriage in a TV interview this morning
Father Foreshew-Cain was previously condemned by evangelical groups for putting up “keep calm and support equal marriage” signs while the issue was being debated.
He also attracted flack for housing a branch of the Post Office and a soft play area in St James’ Church.