I was with our UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer on Sunday morning when we got news of this tragedy. We stood in silence – listening… heartbroken… angry… and resolutely committed to stand in solidarity with same gender loving people. We also committed ourselves yet again to speak out against so called leaders of religious and political bodies who create the conditions which fuel hatred which so often turns to violence. Here is a link to John Dorhauer’s statement. It also includes a message from my colleague, the Rev. John Vertigan, Conference Minister of the Florida Conference, who should also be included in our prayers.
Below, I have pasted a prayer from the Rev. Matt Crebbin, our UCC Pastor in Newtown CT, who continues to witness against gun violence with remarkable fortitude and grace.
Yesterday, a friend from the Islamic Council of New England invited me to join him in expressing his deepest condolences to the families of those affected and pledging to fight for an America free from gun violence. Click here to consider joining us. And let us all continue our resolve to speak out against any religiously-motivated hatred or violence that may arise in response to this tragedy. See this synod resolution.
And here is a portion of the Charge I offered yesterday at an installation. The Pastor, Sarah Sarchet Butter of Wellesley Village Church, asked that the charge be a convenanted charge to the congregation, the Association and to her. I offer it as a charge to us all:
In a country unique in the world - awash in guns, overwhelmed by fear, bullied by lobbies - let the church rise up; let us be relentless in our witness; let us change the national narrative from one dominated by fear to one embracing the now distant aspirations of safety and hope.
May God touch each of us with the healing we need, and give each of us the courage required make God’s love and justice real.
Prayer from Matt Crebbin, Pastor, Newtown Congregational Church:A word about Orlando
First...DO PRAY...if it is a part of your tradition.
Pray for the murdered, the injured, the traumatized - each one a unique and precious treasure.
Pray for families and communities forever altered.
Pray for individuals and families in other places who this moment are being re-traumatized.
Pray for all those in our society who are targets of violence because their beauty as a child of God does not fit somebody else's definition of what is righteous or pure.
Pray for all of us who by intent or apathy continue to allow our nation to worship at the altar of the gun.
Pray for those who will only offer prayers and nothing else.
Pray for those who will use this violence to demean or mistreat whole swaths of humanity.
Pray for those who think they know all the reasons for this and who will soon return to a cocoon of self-righteous certainty.
Pray for those who will become even more captive to the way of fear - and only end up further down the path of death and brokenness.
Pray for shalom...for peace and well-being for everyone - including even those who commit unspeakable acts of violence.
Pray for yourself - because even prayer is sometimes too difficult and if you cannot find any words - sighs will always do.
Pray...and even as you are praying...commit yourself to be a part of the transformation our broken, grieving and traumatized world needs.
Pray ...and in your praying become a living and breathing prayer in and for the world.
Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian. He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...