Today leaders on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff released the following statement responding to the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.:
We are confronted as a nation and the world with yet another horrendous act of violence, in a seeming never-ending cycle. The shooting this weekend in Orlando is a tragedy. It is a tragedy not only for the lives lost and relationships left grieving, but for the fear and hate that it produces.
As followers of Jesus we mourn this loss and fear and recommit ourselves to proclaiming and embodying the peace of Christ.
Both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities are regularly the targets of hate. May the Spirit more fully fill us with love for all so that we may be the healing of hands of Christ in times of pain.
In the wake of such tragedies, often we are enjoined to refrain from politicizing them, and to take time for crying, mourning, and grieving. Many ask us to let the dust settle, but just as many urge the church to act for peace, justice, and compassion.
Action and mourning are not antithetical, however. It is appropriate for a peace church to condemn the taking of lives, and given the intersection of ideologies in the Orlando shooting, we must speak up. When fear, sexuality, Islam, and terrorism are all part of one event we all can find a call to action.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we must speak for those most vulnerable. LGBTQ brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors so often have been targeted by violence. While this is the largest mass shooting on US soil to date, the number of people who have been killed because of their sexuality over the course of our nation’s history witnesses to the fact that this is not an isolated incident.
Our Muslim neighbors again find themselves condemning with even more conviction what we all condemn implicitly, and at the same time are living in a climate of radicalization and fear. We are aware that Muslim Americans may once again be thrust into harm’s way if fear boils over into violence against their community.
As Christians, we must make the conscious choice to suffer with the victims and marginalized, just as our Lord did. Embodying the way of the crucified and risen Christ, we present another vision, an alternative that is political and nonpartisan in the best sense. This vision is based on a courageous faith, and the deeper truth that courage and faith are to be lived out in our own neighborhoods and cities. We cannot confront the spirit of fear, violence, and hatred in any other way.
We trust that perfect love drives out fear, and that hope is found in the ultimate political action, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Dale E. Minnich, Interim General Secretary
Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness
Joshua Brockway, Director, Spiritual Life and Discipleship