Service of Reflection

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The altar setting at the service at St Michael and All Angels Church, MottramA service of reflection for the local community was held on Sunday (23 September) at St Michael and All Angels Church (pictured), Mottram. The church is near to where policewomen Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, were killed in a gun and grenade attack. Vicar the Revd James Halstead said a short homily, and six red candles were lit by representatives from the police, by Jonathan Reynolds MP, and by members of Mottram and Hattersley churches.

A poem by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette was specially adapted for the occasion, with permission from the author, and read out. It included these lines...

'God of mercy, you have shown us ways of living that are good:
Work for justice, treasure kindness, humbly journey with the Lord.
Yet your people here are grieving, hurt by weapons that destroy.
Help us turn to you, believing in your way that brings us joy.'

The service followed one held nearby on Wednesday 19 September – the day after the murders – at St Barnabas' Church in Hattersley, where the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Lesley Harding, has been working alongside the Revd James Halstead in offering support for the local community in the wake of the tragedy.

Both Lesley and James have also been busy in speaking to the media in recent days.

The Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Robert Atwell (pictured below), also spoke about the tragedy to the media. Here's what he said on BBC Radio Manchester ...

“My heart goes out to these families of Fiona and Nicola. What a devastating thing to happen. Here were two lovely young women, really committed, hard-working police women, just responding to the call of duty, going out to deal with what seemed to be a normal call on an ordinary day with a suspected burglary, and then just being shot down in cold blood. No wonder their families are devastated and all their colleagues in the Greater Manchester police too.”

Bishop Robert also said he was concerned for the people of Hattersley and Mottram in the wake of the tragedy. “These are communities in profound shock… these are good communities and there are people there who are living decent and good lives and they are profoundly shocked by what’s happened in their midst. I’m really concerned about them this morning and indeed for their reputation and self-esteem as communities.”

He added that the Vicar of Mottram had been taking food to the local food bank around the time of the shooting just a few hundred yards away. The bishop said people and churches in the local area were “trying to support poorer families … and care for them” and that was “testimony to the quality of the community life there, the care and compassion awake in the community”.