Making expressions of empathy visible

Recently we visited the St Peter’s church in Hackney to check up on the digital prayer installation they have been using at the church for the past few months. It was shortly after the 13 November 2015 attack in Paris that shocked people across the world, so we were not surprised to see shared prayers and expressions of empathy for the victims of the attack.

A prayer for the Paris victims displayed on a church wall

A prayer for the Paris victims displayed on the wall at St Peter’s church in Hackney, London. The prayer was posted by a visitor to the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Hawkshead, Cumbria.

The prayer ‘For the poor souls senselessly murdered in Paris’ was shared from Hawkshead in Cumbria, which is almost 600 miles (approximately 1000km) from Paris. Despite the geographic distance, a person from a rural northern English village has wished to express their empathy for the people who died in the Paris attacks. This goes beyond the original intention of the digital prayer installation, which was to facilitate a sense of connection, pro-social and pro-community behaviours between the two spatially distant church communities.

The prayers for the victims of the Paris attack goes beyond private concerns and expresses globally felt emotions in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. The digital prayer installations in London and Hawkshead are not only used for expressing private and local concerns, but they are used as a channel for sharing the two church communities’ members’ feelings about the globally significant event.


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