Jo Cox was a “21st century Good Samaritan”, churchgoers were told yesterday in the village where the MP was killed.
Services at St Peter’s Church, less than half-a-mile from the centre of Birstall, West Yorkshire, where Mrs Cox was killed on Thursday, highlighted her tireless work for those at “the bottom of the world’s heaps”.
What we’ve seen is not just the nation mourning the manner of her death but celebrating what she achieved in her short lifeGeorge Osborne
The Rev Paul Knight told a congregation that the 41-year-old was “someone with whom Jesus would have been so pleased”.
He said: “Her humanity was powerful and compelling and we would do well to recognise her as an amazing example – a 21st century Good Samaritan.”
Mr Knight said: “Jo was someone who went out of her way to help others.
“I regret to say I didn’t know what she was like as a girl but she grew into a fervent advocate for the poor and oppressed.
“And though she must have been angry at times about what she saw here and around the world – those places she visited and worked – she seemed to me, at least, to be one who could fight with a passion and a disarming smile.”
Mr Knight was speaking as the Labour MP’s husband Brendan tweeted: “Jo loved camping. Last night the kids & I camped in her memory & remembered the last time we were all woken by the dawn chorus #MoreInCommon”
Prayers were said at St Peter’s for Mr Cox and the couple’s two young children. Parishioner Leif Wickes said: “As they grow up and hear about Jo’s life and achievements, may they be inspired to follow her example and serve the world’s underprivileged in their turn.”
MPs will gather to remember their colleague today, with parliament being recalled to so that tributes to Mrs Cox can be heard at Westminster.
There was growing support yesterday for MPs to ignore convention and mix on the Commons benches, sitting side by side with members of other parties as a symbol of unity and the rejection of divisive political rhetoric.
Chris Grayling, the leader of the Commons, backed the idea, saying MPs “feel a genuine sense of deep grief about what’s happened.”
There was also support for a memorial to Mrs Cox at parliament, with some calling for a statue of the MP to be erected. Asked about the plans, Chancellor George Osborne said: “I think it is very much for the family to guide us in this. I hope there will be a memorial, not just to her tragic death but to her incredible life.
“I think what we’ve seen in the last couple of days is not just the nation mourning the manner of her death but celebrating what she achieved in her short life.”
An online fundraiser set up by Mrs Cox’s friends towards charities she supported has raised more than £770,000 in two days, and continues to grow.
At the church service at St Peter’s, Mr Knight also remembered the bravery of pensioner Bernard Kenny, 77, who remains in hospital after he was injured coming to Mrs Cox’s aid outside Birstall library on Thursday.