Church leaders have united in offering sympathy and prayers following last night’s tragedy when a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub.
First reaction from Archbishop Tartaglia
The bar is only 400 metres from St Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, where Glasgow Churches Together had held a service of ecumenical vespers shortly before the incident.
Priests from the parish were on hand on Friday night during the rescue to help the injured and relatives, and the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, held a Mass at the Cathedral at 1pm for everyone involved in the crash.
He said: “”My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident. Prayers will be offered for everyone, especially for those who have died, for the injured and for the bereaved.
“May the gentle presence of Jesus comfort us all at this difficult time. Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland, pray for us.”
Moderator thanks emergency services
Right Rev Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said she is praying for people caught up in the crash.
She said: “Already stories of those caught up in a tragedy forming a human chain to help those trapped show the spirit of the people of Glasgow and their care for one and other. The emergency services are to be thanked for their quick response and expertise in this tragic situation.”
Chaplain says casualties included emergency personnel
Rev Gordon Armstrong, Church of Scotland chaplain to the Fire and Rescue service who was on the scene after the crash, said: “For the emergency services it was personal too as some of their own were among the casualties. You could see from their physical demeanour how they felt. There was a sense of there but for the grace of God go any of us.
“The devastation was confined to the pub probably because in his last few seconds the pilot managed to switch off the engines and the fuel supply. There was no explosion, no fireball, no devastation in the street. It was bad but it could have been a bigger disaster.”
Episcopalians offer deepest sympathy
The Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan, Episcopalian Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, said: “On behalf of the Episcopal Church in Glasgow and across Scotland I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to all the families of those who have lost their lives, and to those who have been injured, in this terrible disaster.
“We also offer our gratitude to the many citizens of Glasgow who have come to the help of the people caught up in this tragedy, and praise the exemplary work being done by all the emergency services and medical staff. Our churches across Glasgow, and beyond, will be praying for all those affected by this tragedy and for the whole city of Glasgow.”
A prayer for those affected by the tragedy
The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, offered a prayer for those in Glasgow and further afield who wish to pray for the city:
Help us to pray for the people of Glasgow – this dear green place.
With thanksgiving we remember those who have shown courage.
With concern we remember those injured.
With compassion we remember the bereaved.
With love we pray for all caught up in this event.
Strengthen the weary.
Protect the vulnerable.
Embrace those who grieve.
Salvation Army provided support during rescue operation
Major Russell Wyles, the Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander for West Scotland, said: “The hearts of Salvation Army members are sincerely moved by the plight of those affected by Friday evening’s helicopter crash. In providing refreshment for rescue service personnel and survivors we have attempted to offer some comfort in the direst of times.
“We realise the gravity of this situation and therefore offer our sincerest prayers and emotional support for whom this tragedy will have lasting impact especially through bereavement and injury.”
Hundreds pay tribute to Clutha victims at memorial service
The heads of the emergency services and political and civic leaders were among those who prayed for those affected by the accident at the Clutha Vaults pub on Friday night.
Sunday school children lit eight candles, one for each of the dead so far confirmed, while Rev Dr Laurence Whitley led prayers at the memorial service in Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday December 1.
Dr Whitley said that it was important to express “solidarity” with all those whose loved ones had died or been injured in the tragedy.
He said: “At such times it is difficult to find hope, but hope we must, so that nothing denies the triumph of the human spirit.”
He added: “When we do what is good and true and right, God is strengthened – he is able to bring his goodness to bear.
“At times like this we ask: ‘When can we live without such pain and loss?’ The church must answer that we do not know, but this first day of Advent serves as a promise that this will come.
“We do not end this day in pain and loss. We stand defiant, and in our great and vibrant and irrepressible city we stand hand-in-hand to go forward into the light.”
Pope Francis expresses closeness to people of Glasgow
On December 2, Pope Francis expressed his “closeness” to the people of Glasgow in a message conveyed to Archbishop Philip Tartaglia by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop, Antonio Mennini.
The text read: “Having learned the sad news of the tragic accident which occurred in Glasgow when a police helicopter crashed into Clutha Vaults pub, close to the Cathedral, causing the death of several people and numerous injured, I would like hereby to convey to you, as Archbishop of Glasgow, the closeness of the Holy Father as well as my most sincere sympathy in these difficult moments.
“I assure you of my prayers for those who have tragically lost their lives or have been injured as well as their relatives. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who have died and comfort their relatives and the entire community of Glasgow in these moments of distress and sadness.”