In response to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton

A statement from Church of the Brethren General Secretary David Steele

“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18).

Today, like far too many days before, we are grieving with our country at the news of two horrific mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio. At a time when it is hard to find words to soothe, we turn to the balm that heals us in the scriptures and our commitment to Christ’s peace. In the words of Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

We reaffirm the words that Mission and Ministry Board said in last year’s statement, “Lukewarm no more: A call for repentance and action on gun violence:”

“The work of the church is pastoral and public. We must preach the Gospel in word and deed. […] We have fallen short of discipleship in the way of Jesus, lost sight of Christ’s reconciling work, grown weary in doing good, become numb to shootings, and tolerant of widespread violence in our nation. We call ourselves into greater and more energetic care for all people through direct service, bold peacemaking, and the work of challenging policies that do not lead to well-being and God’s shalom.”1

We are in the midst of a crisis, one caused by violent white supremacy fueled by prominent hateful rhetoric. It is such a time as this that requires the bold peacemaking to which our historic pacifist stance calls us. Our 1991 Statement on Peacemaking says, “Just as peace is broken when injustice and unrighteousness reign, so peace is threatened when fear and hostility exercise control.”2 Fear and hostility provided the foundation for these domestic terror incidents to occur, and it is an act of hope and trust in God to call for peace in the wake of violence.

The statement goes on to say that “[i]n the tradition of Moses to Malachi, prophetic proclamation and action has been a distinctive part of our heritage. The prophetic, whether a word of judgment, a cry of anguish, a symbolic act of resistance or defiance, a confession, or a vision of hope and promise, always presupposes that Yahweh is active in our time.”3

If we seek to bring God’s peace to earth as it is in Heaven, we must proclaim the prophetic, this act of resistance to the violence we see around us every day. We believe that Yahweh is active in our time, which calls us to lament and grieve for all those who feel the sting of violence and to seek true justice and peace for a hurting world.

— David Steele, General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren

1 “Lukewarm no more: A call for repentance and action on gun violence,” Mission and Ministry Board Statement (2018).

2 “Peacemaking: The Calling of God’s People in History,” Annual Conference Statement (1991).

3 “Peacemaking,” (1991).

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