I started awake at 2:30 this morning, nothing unusual there, between nigthsweats and an overactive brain I rarely sleep through the night. When I listened to the news later on, I learned that this was the time that Police were called to Moss Side following a multiple shooting.
I have a soft spot for Moss Side, mainly because when I was at Vicar School I lived on its northern edge. For a year I worked with an Anglican church serving the Alexandra Park Estate - the Alex Estate as we called it. Here people of many nationalities, races and faiths lived alongside one another, mostly peacefully, often in poverty and with a shared history of gangs, drugs and riots, police 'stop-and-search' and more. I wel recall driving slowly round the estate looking for a house nyumber, to disocver I was being followed by a police car whose driver assumed I was up to no good...
For sure, it was black majority, my white face stood out like a sore thumb pretty much anyhwere I went. Yes, there were young men who carried guns or kept one under the bed. And, certainly, I attended the funeral of at least one gang-land murder.
But it was a place where mostly people were peaceable, peace-loving and decent.
Today my prayers are especially for the folk at St Eds and St James, the churches I knew best. I also pray for Moss Side, for Hulme, for Lonsight and all the other neighbourhoods and communities in Manchester that, too readily, are labelled negatively due to the actions of a few.