Ten days after the shooting at a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hamburg, the victims are to be commemorated on Sunday in the main church of St. Petri. The ecumenical commemoration is about “giving space to mourning, giving comfort and care,” said the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany and the Archdiocese of Hamburg, who are organizing the event together with the Working Group of Christian Churches. The community of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been invited to the service. Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) “very much welcomes the commitment of the Christian churches and is taking part,” said his spokesman.

According to the churches, the commemoration should not and cannot replace a funeral service for Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is why Bishop Kirsten Fehrs and Archbishop Stefan Hess would pray for the victims, the injured, their families, the helpers, rescuers, police officers and firefighters during the commemoration.

Johovah’s witnesses outraged

A representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses in northern Germany had already expressed his outrage when the plans for a memorial service became known on Tuesday: “In these discussions, these plans, not a single one of the victims or their relatives is involved, let alone the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who determine a wants to find a way to conduct a funeral service in their own way, according to their Christian principles,” said spokesman Michael Tsifidaris.

Bishop Kirsten Fehrs said she grieved with the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “even though I don’t share her faith.” The inhuman act of violence shook the whole of Hamburg and left many people stunned and sad. “In this situation, it’s good to stand together, express your concerns and, above all, to pray together and across denominations for peace and peaceful coexistence,” said Hesse.