Religious leaders in Hamburg urged people not to give up on peace at a memorial service Sunday for the six Jehovah’s Witnesses killed in last week’s mass shooting by a former member.
The Catholic and Protestant churches organized the service, along with the Association of Christian Churches. Jehovah’s Witnesses did not attend because he is against their beliefs to participate in interfaith worship services, according to the religion’s website.
In a letter, Jehovah’s Witnesses recognized sympathy from other residents of the northern German city, according to German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
They plan to hold their own memorial service next week, in keeping with their beliefs, DW reported.
The Sunday service was attended by local politicians and clergy.
“The more insurmountable the difficulties and the bleaker the prospects for security and peace seem, the more insistent our prayers must be and the more we must be together in this city,” said Catholic Archbishop Stefan Hesse, quoted by DW.
Speakers, including Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher, paid tribute to the first responders and emergency chaplains who came to the scene.
“For me, God was present, in you, bandaging wounds, recovering the dead, hugging frightened neighbors and reassuring,” said Protestant Bishop Kirsten Fehrs.
The shooting took place on March 9 at a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall place of worship around 9 pm local time. Seven people died, including the suspect and the unborn baby of a pregnant woman. Eight others were injured.
The suspect, identified by German authorities only as Philipp F., committed suicide after the shooting. He had been a Jehovah’s Witness until he left the religious group two years earlier.