Darkness does not endure, says Archbishop at David Amess memorial service

REUTERS/Jean Pierre

The Archbishop of Canterbury has paid tribute to the "kindness, humour, grace and simply sheer goodness" of Sir David Amess at a memorial service joined by his parliamentary colleagues.

The service was held at St Margaret's, Westminster, on Monday evening and attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer, members of the Cabinet, MPs, and peers.

In his sermon, Archbishop Justin Welby spoke of the "demonic horror" that lay behind the murder of Sir David. 

He remembered the Conservative MP as someone of "exceptional character" with "a charity of heart that came from his deep Catholic Christian faith". 

"A friend to his constituents and to his constituency; a wholehearted supporter of causes from the now-achieved City Status for Southend, to great causes of the future of our nation around Brexit," the Archbishop said.

"And all with a robust fairness of spirit and charity of heart that won the admiration and affection of all sides, regardless of whether they agreed with him politically or not."

He added, "Public service in politics is a sacrifice that should be honoured and respected, even when differences of opinion run very deep indeed. David showed that." 

Welby went on to say that justice would prevail and that the "light" of public service that Sir David exemplified "may flicker but it will not be extinguished". 

"Cruel adversity is not final destiny. Darkness does not endure," he said. 

"In the face of such injustice, it must be for all of us to determine to shine that light all the more brightly."

The service was conducted by the Rector of St Margaret's and Canon of Westminster, the Rev Anthony Ball who said: "Here, in the parliamentary church, we come to mourn the untimely death of Sir David Amess MP, to pray for [his wife] Julia, their family, and all who feel his loss so keenly, to remember the kindness and commitment of a friend and colleague, and to console each other in our grief.

"Here we acknowledge a shared sense of vulnerability even as we express the determination to maintain our public service. Here we seek God's protection and the needful gifts of courage and strength for the days ahead."

Prayers were said by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Ven Tricia Hillas, and Roman Catholic Duty Priest to the House of Commons, Canon Pat Browne.

Lord McFall, Speaker of the House of Lords, read Isaiah 12 while Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, read from 1 Thessalonians 4.