Dear United Methodist friends,
Grieved afresh by the horrific violence Sunday morning in First Baptist Church, I asked colleague bishops in our Council of Bishops covenant group this morning for wisdom and help. How do we respond faithfully to encourage and protect those who gather for worship, prayer, learning, and service?
An African colleague bishop offered this perspective: “In our country, it always takes courage to go to church for worship. All Christians are targets of violence.”
In the United States, we have assumed safety and comfort as Christians. We are stunned by the idea of a dangerous world. It is painful to see terrorism, most recently in Las Vegas, New York, and Texas.
Do we demand security, perhaps even armed guards in our churches?
Our church suggests not. United Methodist churches are declared gun-free zones in our Social Principles.
This conviction is rooted not in naïveté. It is rooted in the deep conviction that God calls us to create better ways forward. Together, let us explore these better ways. The links below will be helpful to you as you lead in your church and community.
With gratitude to God for the life we share in Christ who said: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
Hope Morgan Ward
Resources from UMC.org & UM Communications
- Embracing Love: Responding to Violence (UMCOM)
- Ten suggestions for preaching after a catastrophe (UMCOM)
- Keeping Churches Safe and Welcoming (UMC)
- Ways United Methodists can take a stand against gun violence (UMC)
- A United Methodist Prayer: Turning to God in Days of Trouble (UMC)
- After Texas church shooting, here’s the question we should ask (azcentral)
- Why church shootings don’t intimidate the Church (The Washington Post)