A Statement on the Tragedy in Orlando

by Mike Yoder, Executive Director

The tragedy in Orlando this week has caused us all to do a lot of grieving and soul searching. It also led me to reflect on my first address as Executive Director of Associated Ministries last fall, and recommit to my call to action that morning.

At our annual breakfast gathering I shared my passionate desire that we overcome the idea of “otherness.” Especially when it comes to people of faith, I believe we need to understand that we are always talking about “us.” More than ever we can’t afford to think of any other person of faith as “them.” But as the vitriolic dialogue shared this past week painfully points out, there is more work to be done before that view becomes a reality for some.

Ironically, the day before the Orlando shootings, AM cohosted an event titled “Religious Approaches to Peace Building” at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple. The room was packed with nearly 50 participants from a wide range of backgrounds, and an overarching theme was how much commonality there is between faith traditions when it comes to peace building. We need to shout that from the rooftops! AM will continue to seek more opportunities like this to foster interfaith understanding and engagement.

Associated Ministries was founded on a commitment to bridge theological differences by putting love into action. For 47 years we’ve worked to unite people from different faiths and backgrounds in order to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community. We’ve always believed we can tackle great needs together much better than any of us could do it alone.

People of faith are those called to love their neighbors in the most difficult circumstances, acting as agents of healing, restoration and peace-building. While it’s true that we people of faith are just ordinary individuals, now more than ever we must be committed to making an extraordinary difference in this community.

Sarah Sayeed of the Interfaith Center of New York has said: “All faith traditions share a strong commitment to justice and dignity for those who are weak, oppressed, and marginalized. This is our common ground.”

Like never before we need to stand shoulder to shoulder as people of faith and uphold our common commitment to love our neighbor as ourselves; a confused and frightened world desperately needs to find hope and inspiration by seeing this ideal boldly lived out in each of our lives.

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