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Archbishop of York’s Holocaust Memorial Day Message 2013

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, praying

Sunday 27th January 2013

The Archbishop of York has issued a special message to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. His message follows...

This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day calls us to build bridges together as communities. During the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides, communities that had lived together as neighbours were split apart with one community turning on another. What began with whispered words and racist taunts ended in violence and unspeakable acts of mass murder.
We cannot assume that just because we live in the same country, city, town or village we will automatically connect with each other. Reaching out to neighbours who are different from ourselves in one way or another is not always easy. And yet it is what our Christian faith calls us to do. As God reaches out to us in Christ in reconciling love, so we are inspired and strengthened to reach out to our neighbours, overcoming fear and ignorance and discovering our common humanity.
‘Building a bridge’ in this way can be as simple as offering a smile or taking the time to strike up a conversation with someone who we may not know very well. When we reach out as communities, for example as a group of friends or as a local church, the bridge becomes even stronger. We have the resources and the encouragement in each other not only to support deeper relationships with another community but also to work with them for the benefit of our wider neighbourhood and society.
As we have seen too often in our history it is in times of austerity that communities turn against one another. Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us that we cannot take for granted the good relations between communities that we enjoy in Britain today. One of the most terrible aspects of some survivors’ stories is the way that neighbours and even friends turned against them. As a sign of our rejection of the hatred that resulted in genocide, may I urge you to sign the Holocaust Memorial Day online statement at http://buildabridge.hmd.org.uk/ and to consider prayerfully and creatively what bridge you and your community might build this year.

Note to Editors:
Holocaust Memorial Day was created on 27 January 2000, when representatives from 44 governments around the world met in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust education, remembrance and research. At the end of this meeting, all attendees signed a declaration committing to preserving the memory of those who have been murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides. This declaration became the statement of commitment which is still used as a basis for HMD activities today.
Hundreds of HMD events are happening around the country, and the 2013 Holocaust Memorial Day National Commemoration Event will take place on Monday 28th January at the The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster. The Revd Dr Toby Howarth, the Church of England’s National Adviser for Inter Religious Affairs,  will be lighting a candle as part of the commemoration.

Further details can be found here: http://hmd.org.uk/

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