The leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany’s Bavaria region called on church members to reach out to their communities in a special way after three violent attacks in less than a week left the country reeling.
Adventist believers joined people across Germany in expressing shock and sorrow after an 18-year-old German-Iranian student killed nine people at the Olympia Mall in Munich on Friday evening. Several days earlier, on July 19, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an ax and a knife injured five people on a train before being shot dead by police. Then on Sunday, a rejected Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up and injured 15 people with a backpack bomb in the southern town of Ansbach. All three attacks occurred in Germany’s Bavaria region.
“We are concerned about the development of violence and terror in our country,” said Wolfgang Dorn, president of the Adventist Church’s Bavarian Conference.
“As Adventist believers, we want our churches to be places of refuge for the weak and for the suffering,” he said in a statement released Monday by the church’s Inter-European Division. “Our churches should be a safe place for people who are longing for protection and security and who live in areas affected by sin and suffering.”
An Adventist congregation in Munich canceled a previously planned fifth-anniversary celebration on Sabbath to instead hold a memorial service for those killed at the shopping center hours earlier.
Pastor Miodrag Jovanovic called on worshippers at the Munich-Waldfrieden Seventh-day Adventist Church to continue to believe in good despite the evil in the world.
“Jovanovic highlighted also the excellent work of the police and so many helping citizens,” the Inter-European Division said in the statement. “Finally, Jovanovic called on the audience to be ‘messengers of comfort and confidence.’”
The division noted that many of those killed in the shopping center attack were teens.
“We mourn the death of boys and girls, Germans and foreigners, Christians and Muslims,” it said. “Never should a father see the death of his children. Never should a mother mourn the loss her offspring.”
On his Facebook page, Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson said his heart went out to those affected by the violence in Germany and also in Afghanistan, where a suicide bomb attack killed 80 people in Kabul on Saturday. He urged church members worldwide to show compassion and to get involved in sharing “the great hope we have in salvation through the righteousness of Christ and in His soon second coming.”