As the first victims of the London bombings were identified publicly Tuesday, families continued to look for those missing and feared dead.
The first victim named was 52-year-old Susan Levy, a mother of two killed in an underground blast at King’s Cross. Police say at least 52 people were killed in the Thursday attacks, and the death toll is expected to exceed 70, according to The Guardian.
The missing included a devout 20-year-old Muslim on her way to a dental appointment, an 18-year London resident who was nervous about visiting her native Israel because of fear of suicide bombers and a devout Christian active in a Baptist church.
A group of 18 people from Bretton Baptist Church in Peterborough, a middle-sized community about 80 miles north of London, traveled to place flowers at King’s Cross station, where 32-year-old James Adams is feared to have been on one of the underground trains bombed during morning rush hour last Thursday.
According to the BBC, Adams last spoke to his mother Thursday morning to say he had arrived at King’s Cross, where he traveled to work as a mortgage consultant.
Steve Lodge, a close friend who has known Adams for 17 years, described him as a thoughtful and compassionate man, well-loved by many.
“He’s a hugely gregarious and outward-looking guy,” Lodge told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. “He would always be caring for other people and thinking and praying for them and, as a consequence, he made many friends. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”
Another close friend, Amanda Garraty, received a text message from Adams just before the explosion. “I just hope he is in a hospital somewhere, but we have heard nothing,” she told the newspaper.
David Lammy, a childhood friend, remembered Adams as a “gentle, funny, generous, kind-hearted guy.”
“I have never heard anyone say a bad word about James,” Lammy said. “I really hope to God that he’s not been caught up in this awful evil that we witnessed in London.”
Adams, who lives alone, is a devout Christian active in Bretton Baptist Church.
“It’s always the case when you lose people that everybody will sing the praises of that individual, but in this case it’s all absolutely genuine,” Lodge said.
Lodge said Adams’ parents were too distressed to talk publicly about their son, but they were being well supported by the community.
“They’re very private individuals and are getting a lot of support from friends,” Lodge said. “”His parents are going through hell, but they’re almost more concerned about everyone else. They’re concerned about the police who have such a difficult job to do and they’re concerned about those who are searching for James. That’s the type of people they are.”
Patricia Took, regional minister for the London Baptist Association, told the Baptist Times in an e-mail she is aware of one member of a Baptist church in London with serious injuries, and another who was missing but later confirmed dead. There are other stories of near misses, she said, and a number of local Baptists served on medical teams in London hospitals.
London Baptist churches plan to gather from 6-8 p.m. Friday for a prayer service at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church.
On Sunday, a prayer chain in Baptist churches focused on needs of the bereaved, the maimed, those who have witnessed terrible things and rescue and medical workers. A “Prayer for London” on the association’s Web site also asked God to “forgive those men and women of violence who believe that right is on their side.”
Kumar Rajagopalan, London Association’s regional minister for racial justice, sent a message to Muslim Council of Britain pledging to stand beside them and work to support and strengthen community cohesion, Took said.
At least three Baptist ministers joined other Christian leaders attending Friday prayers at East London Mosque and an interfaith vigil at nearby Aldgate station, where the first of four bombs exploded.
The Muslim Council of Britain reported being inundated by hate e-mails, causing its server to crash late Thursday.
“Muslim killers have done this. May they and Islam rot in hell,” said one anonymous e-mail posted on the council’s Web site. Others, hearing about the hate mail, responded with notes saying negative messages represented extremists and not most Christians in the UK.
Adams’ friend Lammy said that “James, wherever he is, would want people to concentrate on the positive side of life and on the faith which keeps us all going.”
“There’s absolutely no doubt about that,” he said. “He would want us to have a laugh and a smile and a prayer and he would want to move forward.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.