United at the Martin Place siege anniversary service
On the 15 December, St Stephen’s Uniting Church held a “Blue Christmas” memorial service for the second anniversary of the tragic Martin Place siege at the Lindt Café that saw two lives lost.
The public service commemorated the lives of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, as well as creating a space of healing for those affected by the events. Family, friends and some of the hostages attended the service along with the NSW Premier Mike Baird and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The service was led by Minister of St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Rev. Ken Day and National Disaster Recovery Officer of the Uniting Church Assembly, Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson. Rev. Dr Robinson and disaster Chaplains were present at the site of the seige in the days following the event, comforting passersby who were deeply affected by the unfolding hostage crisis over the 16 hours in 2014.
In Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson’s sermon he focused on the hardship of dealing with loss especially this festive season and how we can move forward together.
“Today we mourn together…and together we hold to the hope of Christ who joined us that first Christmas and remains with us in this broken world and opens the way to eternal light.
“All is not well but we look in hope to a time… that those who mourn will be comforted and He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more mourning, crying or pain,” he said.
While a haunting rendition of Pie Jesu was sung by choral scholar Georgia Melville, attendees were welcomed to light candles and place flowers together as a prayer for strength and to affirm that ‘light is stronger than darkness’.
After the service several chaplains were at hand for anyone who needed to talk about any issues the day had raised for them.
The idea of solidarity is what Mike Baird said in a statement is needed on a day that carries the reminder of terrible loss and tragedy.
“I urge the people of NSW to continue to embrace those ideals of tolerance and compassion that were so pronounced in the days following the siege,” said Mr Baird.
After the siege in 2014, the public laid more than 110,000 flowers in Martin Place, in an overwhelming response of solidarity with all those affected by the events. These floral tributes will form the basis of the permanent memorial site that is currently underway in Martin Place.
“We will continue to work closely with the designer, Professor Richard Johnson AO, and with Katrina and Tori’s families to finalise the design elements of the memorial,” said Mr Baird.
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