by Mike Yoder, AM’s Executive Director
The news of yet another mass shooting in America is tragically all too familiar. Yet the report out of Sutherland Springs, Texas over the weekend arose in many of us a particular sense of horror and anger. The devastating and senseless slaying of nearly half the congregation of First Baptist Church while they were gathered for worship in their sanctuary is a violation of the most basic form of human decency. Our houses of worship must never become places in which we feel the need to look over our shoulder for a shooter.
Mark Bane, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Lay Leadership, said: “This act of senseless violence and brutal terror has no place anywhere in the world, but particularly not in a house of worship. Indeed, the perpetrator has violated all houses of worship with this vile attack.”
I resonate with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who responded to this latest shooting by saying: “We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”
Pastor and author Nate Pyle shared the following prayer over the weekend that touched me; I encourage you to join me in praying along these lines in the days to come:
Pray for the victims of gun violence.
Pray we do not become numb to tragedy.
Pray we do not value our rights more than the lives of our neighbors.
Pray we as a nation wake to our ability to do something and repent of our inaction.
May we continue our long-standing efforts to create a community – and a world – that is more humane, compassionate and just.
(Note: A practical tool to enable local faith leaders to support one other during a time of crisis has been launched by Associated Ministries. Through our emergency response alert system, a text message will be sent in the rare event that a local faith community is threatened with a hate crime or violence and is asking for other congregations to lend support. To join the Pierce County Faith Leaders’ Emergency Response Network, text the keyword PCFAITHRESPONSE to 80123 and you will be automatically subscribed. For more information contact Sandy at AM at 253-426-1506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)