The United Reformed Church in Britain has condemned as “an offence against God” the assassination of Gayle Williams, a Christian aid worker in Kabul, and the chilling comments of those who killed her.
Taliban insurgents said “This woman came to teach Christianity to the people of Afghanistan. Our leaders issued a decree to kill her. This morning our people killed her”.
The Rev John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church said: “It is deeply sad and sickening that Gayle Williams has been deliberately targeted as a Christian, and gunned down in the streets of Kabul. She had been welcomed into Afghanistan, and was working with Serve Afghanistan, a trusted organisation, bringing skilled assistance to people with disabilities”.
He promised that the Church would pray for her family and colleagues. “We will also pray for the families and individuals in Kabul who delighted in and depended upon her skills, and the people who actually killed her and those who support them explicitly or implicitly. We pray with all Christians, Muslims and people of faith everywhere, for whom this is an offence against God and a violation of all that their spiritual traditions mean”.
The Rev Peter Colwell, convenor of the URC’s inter-faith relations committee said: “Like Christians, the vast majority of Muslims abhor this kind of violence. Some Taliban factions operate far outside mainstream views and actions. The Taliban are not a single united entity”.
When news of the killing broke, Peter Colwell was attending an ecumenical consultation in Geneva, reflecting upon Christian attitudes to Islam The keynote address was given by Catholicos Aram, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who said that prevailing misperceptions and polarisations between Muslims and Christians, which are hijacked by ideological agendas, could be transformed only through a shared life in community.
The United Reformed Church, through a series of unions over the past 35 years, has brought together English Presbyterians, English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists and members of the Churches of Christ. One hundred thousand people make up 1600 congregations, with more than 700 ministers, paid and unpaid.
Worldwide, more than 70 million Christians are members of the Reformed family of churches, the largest Protestant tradition. They call themselves Reformed because their churches began to emerge with reform movements in the sixteenth century.