Church leaders come together to help Muslim community after terror attack - 'time for compassion'

More than 150 church leaders from all denominations across Christchurch met yesterday to talk about ways they can support the Muslim community in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

On Sunday, many churches across Aotearoa took up offerings to reach out to the Muslim community as a sign of "love, support and compassion".

The way the community has dealt with this tragedy has been incredible, said Carl Crocker, who serves as pastor of Life Church in Christchurch.

"In the meeting, there was a sense of togetherness like there was after the earthquakes," he told 1 NEWS.

"This is a time for compassion and love, not to push an agenda."

He said a lot of people in his congregation have been traumatised by the terrorist attacks.

"People in our church are reaching out to help families in our community that are affected by just being there for them and providing meals."

He said the churches also have 24/7 youth workers in the schools helping the kids who need support.

"It’s so awesome to see everybody in the community helping in the way they can."

It's a sentiment that Ken Shelley, who lead the meeting, agrees with. 

"Even though we are still in shock, as the community is, there is an extraordinary unity in Christchurch," he said. "Being there for one another in a time like this is so important."

Nick Regnault, the resettlement coordinator at South West Baptist in Christchurch, said the families he works with have been directly affected. The resettlement programme helps migrant families find jobs and integrate into society.

"We have three families that have been here for eight months from the Middle East," he said. "All three of them are quite frightened because it brings back memories of where they have come from.

"They came here, thinking New Zealand was safe, in the hope of a better life."

Four people from those two families were in the mosque at the time of the shooting and two died.

"From one of the families, the husband and eldest son died and the wife is still in hospital with her youngest son," Mr Regnault said. "And from another family he was in the mosque at the time of the shooting and is severely traumatised."

He said his church has been helping by going to visit the youngest son at hospital while the mother visits the morgue.

They are also providing meals for the families affected and helping with child care.

Some churches are also currently working with the Christchurch City Council to see how they can best be effective.

Church leaders gather in Christchurch. Source: Supplied