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Victims memorialized

Mission president offers prayer in Madrid service

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Spanish civic and religious leaders — including a representative from the Church — gathered recently to memorialize the victims of the March 11 terrorist train bombings in Madrid.

Spain Malaga Mission President Allan F. Packer offered comments and a special prayer at the March 25 event, held at a mosque in Fuengirola, Spain. He was joined in the program by Muslim and Jewish clerics, along with Fuengirola Mayor Esperanza Ona.

Participants at the gathering are part of an ongoing collection of Spanish religious groups that meet periodically under the auspices of the local government. Church members have enjoyed a presence in the associations' annual religious forum, performing in youth choirs and offering prayers.

At the March 25 service, President Packer spoke of the tragedy and the collective suffering of the victims and the Spanish people. He encouraged those gathered at the multi-faith event to support one another and work for unity, saying, "We have more in common than not in common."

He then offered a prayer for the bomb victims and their families, along with the doctors and other public servants in Madrid. President Packer also prayed for blessings upon the entire community.

The memorial event helped foster goodwill among diverse religious leaders at a time of volatility in Spain. President Packer was able to make new acquaintances and friends for the Church, which is relatively small in the nation of 40 million.

He was also interviewed by a local television station, which made mention during a newscast of the Church's participation at the memorial service.

President Packer said missionary work in the Malaga region in southern Spain has returned to normal, although it was never significantly altered.

"The missionaries are focused on going about the work."

Some Spaniards are "looking for answers" in the aftermath of the bombing and are receptive to the gospel message, President Packer said.

A few missionaries have been targets of anti-American sentiment from Spanish residents, but such incidents "have been very minor," President Packer said.

E-mail to: jswensen@desnews.com