Prayers for Christchurch Terrorist Attacks

From Andrew Gamman and Caroline Bindon of Kereru Publishing –

We have no answers when it comes to facing the unspeakable horror of a terrorist attack resulting in so many needless deaths. In times like this we are drawn again to the God of grace and mercy.  To God we bring our questions, doubts, anger, fears… and hopes for better tomorrows.

We provide this resource of prayers in the hope it will help you and your faith community to journey through this difficult time.

This is a free resource and you are welcome to share it with others. Apologies if you receive this email multiple times as we are sending it out to our Kereru Club, Taking Flight and 5 Senses to Prayer lists.

Andrew and Caroline

candle light isolated black

Congregational Prayer for Sunday 17 March

(Ask the congregation to stand. Pray in unison)

Lord God
we are shocked by the news of a terrorist attack in Aotearoa New Zealand

In our grief
we stand alongside Muslims in New Zealand
our brothers and sisters
asking that you would comfort the grieving

We stand alongside Muslims across the world
asking that they may live in safety
security and freedom from fear

We stand alongside the people of Christchurch
shaken by another tragedy
asking for your healing

We stand against those who would want to respond to hatred
with hatred
asking that you would make us into people of peace
love and reconciliation

To that end
we light a candle for hope

(Light a candle)


Congregational Station for Sunday 17 March

Set up stations around your worship space. The number you will need will depend on the size of your congregation.

  • At each station you will need:
  • A large printed picture of the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch
  • Pencils
  • Post-it notes
  • And the following instructions printed out in large type:

Prayers for Christchurch and the Muslim community
Write on the post-its and stick them to the picture of the mosque
It may be you want to tell God what you are feeling; it could be a sentence or two… or just one word like: grief, hope, loss, anger, anguish …


Experiential Prayers for Personal or Congregational Use

In times like these we have a sense of powerlessness.  What can we do?  How can we respond?  The use of an experiential prayer provides the opportunity for a bodily act of prayer to convey some of our heartfelt emotion which words alone can not represent.

To focus your emotions and your thoughts, use a single word as your prayer. Examples could be words like ‘tolerance’, ‘unity’, ‘peace’, ‘love’, ‘anguish’.  You will have plenty more ideas.  If you want to pray more than one word, keep repeating the physical responsive action in your prayer.

Carry out these prayer ideas in reflective silence.  If you’d prefer to voice the words either mouth them, whisper or write.

Here are some simple prayer suggestions for use as an individual, in small groups, in church congregations or to set up in a prayer room.

Heartfelt Prayer
Create an outline of a heart shape on the floor using a piece of string or draw one on carpet or vinyl flooring with a piece of chalk.  Place objects on the shape outline and pray the one-word prayer.  Objects could include; polished stones, sprigs of rosemary or heads of flowers. If you’re in a large group invite participants to come in single file saying their one-word prayer as they place their object on the heart.  A smaller group may wish to sit around the heart outline and place their prayers together onto the heart. Individuals might prefer to display the heart on a table and keep adding to it during the days ahead.  For a prayer room, consider drawing your heart on a large piece of paper and taping it to a wall.  Participants could write their one-word prayers on small heart-shaped pieces of paper and glue them to the heart outline. In this way others coming to the prayer room, can appreciate the community of prayer.

Wall of Unity Prayer
Cut out strips of black paper into rectangles about the size of the face of a small brick.  Provide one to each person with a piece of white chalk.  Write on the brick your one-word prayer and glue or blu-tac the brick to a wall creating a heart-shaped pattern in an offset brick design as each new prayer is added.  If you’re in a large group invite participants to write their prayer where they are seated and then come forward to attach it to the wall themselves as a declaration of unity.  A small group may wish to build the wall together, writing and sticking as they pray.  Individuals might prefer to make smaller bricks and glue them on a piece of paper and attach it to the fridge or wall to be seen in the days ahead.  For a prayer room, create the build the bricks on the wall.  Provide a couple of liquid chalk pens for participants to each write on a brick as they use the prayer room.

Pool of Tears Prayer
Set up a small paddling pool.  Cover it with black polyurethane sheets or cut open some black rubbish bags and spread these over the lining and edges of the pool.  Weigh the polythene or bags down with stones both inside the pool and around the edge.  Fill the pool with a couple of inches of water.  Place plants around the outside of the pool.  Drop small stones or gems into the water and pray a one-word prayer.  As the stone drops a small splash is heard, like the sound of the shedding of a tear.  If you’re in a large group invite an initial dozen participants to stand around the pool to pray.  Place buckets or baskets of stones for each person to select one as they come up to the pool.  Invite the large group to form lines so that as each person leaves the pool, a new person can come and take their place.  A small group may all fit around the pool or take it in turns in the same way as the larger group.  For individuals you could pray this prayer around a sink or bathtub or use a large bowl of water.  For a prayer room, set up a large wash bowl on a table for participants to add their stones or gems to as they come to pray.



Kereru Publishing – Resourcing Christian Spirituality


The story of the Kereru is a metaphor for the church in New Zealand and in the western world.  Our dream is to provide resources to engage, encourage and inspire a generation of seed dispersers for the Christian faith.

Andrew Gamman and Caroline Bindon are founders of Kereru Publishing.  They live among the kereru on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula just to the north of Auckland city in New Zealand.

Mailing address is:  29 The Circle, Manly, Auckland, New Zealand, 0930
Copyright © 2019 Kereru Publishing Ltd



New Hymn from Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Keith Knox of Plimmerton writes:  

“Could you please also distribute the attached hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette on March 15 after the shootings in the mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand.  

“Although written as a hymn it would also be very useful as a prayer.”

O God, We Grieve the Hatred

AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation”)

O God, we grieve the hatred, the ugly, racist fear
that hurts our common living and harms those you hold dear.

For Muslims who were gathered to worship and to pray
soon found their lives were shattered as violence filled their day.

We pray for those now grieving for loved ones who are lost;
we pray for people suffering because of hatred’s cost.
For all of us, now frightened by what extremists do,
we pray: O God of mercy! May we find strength in you!

We grieve our lack of courage: we tolerate the wrong
of people who are racist; we simply go along.
We let the fear continue; we’re slow to challenge hate.
We say, “It’s not our issue,” until it is too late.

O God of love and mercy, you teach us how to be
a loving, caring people, a kind community.
May we reach out to neighbors and welcome others here
for love is what is needed to cast out pride and fear.

Biblical Reference: I John 4:7-21
Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864
Text: Copyright © 2019 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email:   New Hymns:


For a pdf copy of the permission to use,
words and music, please click here.



“You and I are just the same”

Joy Kingsbury-Aitken writes:  “I too have written a few words as my response to this unimaginable slaughter of holy people at prayer.  I wanted to address the issue of “fear of the other” by saying there are no others, we are all the children of God.”

You and I are Just the Same

(in response to the massacre of 50 Muslims in Christchurch on 15 March 2019)
Joy Kingsbury-Aitken

 So God created humankind in his image,
In the image of God he created them;
Male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

My pale skin is tanned by the sun,
your dark skin is naturally brown.
Broken we both bleed red blood
for you and I are just the same.

Christianity is my faith tradition,
the path you follow is called Islam.
The God we worship is the God of Abraham
for you and I are just the same.

Evil came to your place of prayer,
will next time it come to mine?
My soul is pierced, your heart is broken
for you and I are just the same.

Holy time by violence violated,
not Ramadan but the season of Lent.
The murdered saints our brothers and sisters
for you and I are just the same.

A stranger’s anger will not define us.
Our mutual love will abolish hate,
leaving no space for racial bigotry
for you and I are just the same.

For a pdf copy of “You and I are just the same”, click here.

Prayers for Christchurch

On Friday, 15 March 2019, a shooting occurred at a mosque on Deans Ave, near Hagley Park, followed by another at a Linwood mosque on Aldwins Road, leaving at least 50 people dead. 43 were killed at the Deans Ave mosque, and 7 died at the Linwood Ave mosque. One person died in hospital after suffering serious wounds.  48 others were admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds.

Rosalie Sugrue writes: “I am friends with this American pastor, Maren Tirabassi, who presents a Christian blog supported by contributors from many countries, called Gifts in Open Hands  [. Maren is an expert in giving grief words in a Christian context. Last night she posted a prayer for Christchurch on her blog and I responded with a contribution and asked her permission for her words to be available for use in our churches, she consented immediately.”

Prayer for Christchurch

Maren Tirabassi, New Hampshire, USA
(Gifts in Open Hands blog – shared with permission

‘To Allah we belong and to Allah we shall return.
Oh Allah, help us in our calamity and replace it with good.’

God, we weep with you for Christchurch,
our hearts torn open
for those who lost family and friends
to this unimaginable violence,
our minds bent trying to understand hatred.,
our spirits sent in love,
to those who must overcome fear.

In trauma, we pray peace.
in hospitals, we pray healing;
in schools and mosques,
on marae and at churches,
we pray many small and great
works of kindness,
not just today but in days to come;
in mourning, we pray
a knowing that all the world grieves.


A Kiwi Response

Rosalie Sugrue, Kapiti

God, as citizens of Aotearoa we come to you in shock.
Unprecedented slaughter has taken place in our land.

Though aware your wonderful world
has been marred by human violence
since humans learnt to fear each other,
we experience you as a God of loving kindness.
We know you are with all victims, loving them
as parents love their children, comforting and
supporting, and blessing those who care for them.

We believe you sowed in humankind
the seeds of love, and that you
sent the Christ to teach us how
to increase the yield of compassion.
As global understanding grew
replacing fear ‘of other’ with wisdom,
we expected ignorance to diminish.
The vast majority of humans have
embraced goodness and kindness
as the essence of being human,
yet, pockets of distrust and evil persist.

But, not in New Zealand!
In the past one hundred years
less than a dozen unstable souls
have fired random shots at our citizens.
Mass murder remained outside our experience.
Today we discovered we are not immune,
hate crime respects no boundaries.
For all our lofty and smug ideals
we are citizens of a world infested with terror.

New Zealand was selected to prove nowhere is safe.
This evil was deliberately inflicted on Christchurch
the city bravely recovering from our biggest
natural disaster in recent times.
Though filled with disgust, we stand
with our Prime Minister asserting,
“Terrorists have no place in our country.
They chose us but we utterly reject them.
We support our Muslim sisters and brothers
and all who chose to live in peace.

In this unprecedented situation
we Kiwis will cling to love.
So help us God.  Amen.

A pdf copy of these prayers can be found here.

Two poems for Kaikoura, 14 Nov 2016

Rosalie Sugrue has sent in two poems from American pastor and poet, Maren C Tirabassi, for inclusion in our resources.  Both relate to the earthquakes of 14 November 2016.  The first specifically relates to the effects on Kaikoura:

God is not in the earthquake,
and God is not in the landslides,
rockfalls, terrible rains,
aftershocks, tsunamis.

God is in evacuators of Kaikoura, …

The second makes a comparison between recent political appointments in the USA and the seismic events in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Both are prayers, both are reflective – they would both find a place in a liturgy remembering Kaikoura.  They can be found at the top of our Prayers and Blessings page.


Prayer of Lament for Father’s Day

lament 01A contribution from Joy Kingsbury-Aitken this week, entitled “Prayer of Lament for Father’s Day.”  And Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, 4 September.

Today we pray for fathers …

Fathers living where earthquakes have struck
Mourning for beloved children buried in the rubble
Fathers living where bombs have been dropped
Mourning for beloved children buried in the rubble.  …

 The prayer can be found on our prayers page.