Christian leaders are joining the nation in prayer following the Boston Marathon bombings. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger added his voice to that of other ecumenical leaders following the tragedy. Ecumenical groups making statements include the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) also has called for prayer and offered advice to help parents talk with their children about what happened (see below).
General secretary’s statement
“We join this day in remembering those who lost their lives, the pain of recovery for those injured, the families who bear the brunt of their support, and for all those who witnessed this tragedy. They must be held in our prayers,” Noffsinger said.
“We are no strangers to horrific violence,” he added, “and violence leveled against any person anywhere is violence against all of humanity.”
Having just returned from a Christian Churches Together event marking the 50th anniversary of the writing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Noffsinger spoke of the terrorism in Boston as “the same disease of humanity” that has affected so many others around the world. He likened it to the terrorist violence suffered by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in recent years.
Quoting from King’s letter, the general secretary called Brethren as we mark this national tragedy to have compassion for people here and around the world who experience violence in their daily lives. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” Noffsinger quoted from King’s letter. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
“We must work on the deeper source of behavior that sparks violence. Ask, how can I help change the course of humanity to a more nonviolent course,” Noffsinger said.
The Church of the Brethren has just one church plant in Massachusetts. Noffsinger noted that the denomination connects with ecumenical partners there through the council of churches. He recommended to Brethren the statement and resources posted online by the Massachusetts Council of Churches at http://masscouncilofchurches.wordpress.com .
Children’s Disaster Services help for parents
Children’s Disaster Services in a Facebook post offered prayer “for all those impacted by the terror at the Boston Marathon yesterday.” The ministry that trains and places child care givers at disaster sites also offered advice for parents:
“Remember that children are often watching and listening,” the CDS post said. “They may hear parents talking about violence and terror or see reports on the TV that cause confusion and stress. Be prepared to help your child understand and feel safe.”
Children’s Disaster Services has two brochures that can help. Online at www.brethren.org/CDS under the heading “Resources” is a brochure titled “Trauma: Helping Your Child Cope.” Another offering advice for helping support children through war and terrorism may be provided by e-mail to anyone interested. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Statements from ecumenical groups
The National Council of Churches:
April 16, 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are grieving with those in Boston, and joining in prayer with Christians and people of faith around the world. As the National Council of Churches, we stand in solidarity with the Massachusetts Council of Churches. We give thanks for the pastoral leadership of its executive director, the Rev. Laura Everett, and all those Christian leaders who join her in reaching out to those impacted yesterday and in the days to come.
The MCC has offered a powerful public statement, printed below and available here: http://masscouncilofchurches.wordpress.com/
The prayers offered in this statement are fervently echoed by all of us. We pray that God will continue to bring comfort to those who mourn, healing to those who are injured, and peace to those who are living in fear and uncertainty in this difficult time.
Kathryn M. Lohre
The Massachusetts Council of Churches:
“Behold, I will bring health and healing to the city; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth” (Jeremiah 33:6).
Our hearts are heavy in Massachusetts. On a great day of civic pride and joy, our city of Boston was scarred by violence. We grieve for those who have died. Bodies made to run and cheer were wounded. Our eyes are burned with images of terror in the very streets where we walk. Attend to us, Great Physician.
We do not yet now why this has happened. Preserve us from quick judgements, O Lord. Give us wisdom in the days ahead. Reveal to us peace and truth.
We sing the African-American spiritual, “Guide my feet, while I run this race, for I don’t want to run this race in vain.” In this time of uncertainty and fear, we cling to the sure promises of our God that we do not go on in vain.
Even as we grieve, we will remain steadfast in charity, defiant in hope, and constant in prayer. We are grateful for the prayers and support from across the country and the globe. Please continue to pray for the victims. Pray for our first responders, our elected officials, and the media who work with such trauma and return home to their own families. Pray for those without permanent homes who live in our public parks, displaced by this violence in our city. Pray for the marathoners, tourists, and visitors far from home.
The Massachusetts Council of Churches joins our prayers with citizens throughout the Commonwealth. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, may our God indeed bring health and healing to the city.
The Rev. Laura E. Everett
Massachusetts Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches:
The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has offered prayers and support for advocacy against violence on behalf of the WCC member churches in light of the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
In a letter to the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, he said, “This violence in the midst of what was to be a time of celebration and personal accomplishment as many from around the world gathered for a peaceful competition has brought pain and fear to so many across your country.”
The letter was addressed to the NCCCUSA transitional general secretary, Peg Birk and president, Kathryn Lohre.
“In this time when the sanctity of life must be proclaimed most strongly, I offer my personal support to your ongoing advocacy against violence in all its forms,” Tveit said. “In the name of the God of Life all of us must offer such witness as we are called to be agents of justice and peace in a too often wounded world.”