Dear friends in the North Carolina Conference,
Grace and peace to you as we approach the fourth Sunday in Advent. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn with those who suffered unspeakable loss one week ago in Connecticut.
The United Methodist Church provides resources for us to consider in the wake of tragedy. I hope you will visit the websites of the general boards of our church (School Violence. – same link in the December 19 News Briefs) and explore the resources for worship, prayer, ministries with children and youth, and other settings.
I am sending below a statement drafted by religious leaders here in North Carolina. I invite you to read it, and to participate as you feel led. This is one way to respond to is tragedy and to work together for the new world Jesus comes to give to all.
May our prayers and our witness on North Carolina be a means of grace.
With gratitude for our life together in Christ,
Hope Morgan Ward
Bishop, North Carolina Conference
The United Methodist Church
After Sandy Hook Sign-On Statement
All are welcome in joining us in signing on to the statement below:
As we approach one of the two most holy days in Christianity, our hearts are heavy. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, is unspeakable, unimaginable. Twenty first-graders – how our hearts have been broken to hear their names, see their faces, listen to their families. Six school officials, most or all of them killed protecting their students. All of them – children and adults – shot multiple times, as many as eleven for one of them. How can we put into words the horror?
And it is not only those precious lives lost in Newtown. Just this year, similar acts of large-scale violence have taken place at a theater in Colorado and a house of worship in Wisconsin. Other smaller acts of violence are too numerous to count. As followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we are compelled to speak.
First, we join in the shared grief of our nation and especially offer words of comfort to all of those who have had loved ones torn from them. We offer words of blessing and strength to those leaders in the faith communities of Newtown who struggle to minister to their devastated town. And we join with people of faith across the nation in praying for healing and a sense of peace that passes all understanding.
But we must not move on from this massacre, merely wondering where the next one will happen, and so we also call for change. While giving great respect to the freedoms afforded us by our founders and spelled out by our courts, we call on this generation of leaders to rethink the laws governing access to guns, especially those which enable a shooter to spray a classroom with scores of bullets in a few seconds of time. Surely our leaders, both at the state and national levels, can act with courage and wisdom and in a bi-partisan spirit to recognize that common-sense restrictions afford more protection and security than easy access to weapons capable of such horrific destruction.
We also call on the people of our state, many of them people of faith, to rethink frequently heard attitudes toward security. A heavily armed society is not a safe society. Ordinary citizens possessing semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines of ammunition do not advance personal security. Hiding our fears behind guns does not protect us from violence.
The time for prayer is now. But it is also the time for action.
Stan C. Kimer, President
J. George Reed, Executive Director
North Carolina Council of Churches
Leadership of our member bodies who have signed:
The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, Bishop, Diocese of Western North Carolina, Episcopal Church
The Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Reinhold, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Coastal Carolina
The Rev. John M. Richardson, Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina
The Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director, MCC Churches Global Justice Institute
The Rev. Haywood T. Gray, Ex. Secretary & Treasurer, General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
The Rev. Kenneth Monroe, Presiding Bishop, Central NC Annual Conference, AME Zion Church
The Rev. Duane Beck, Bishop, Eastern Carolina District, Mennonite Church, USA
The Rev. Darryl B. Starnes, Sr., Presiding Bishop, Albemarle Conference, AME Zion Church
The Rev. W. Darin Moore, Presiding Bishop, North Carolina Conference, AME Zion Church
The Rev. Roy A. Holmes, Presiding Bishop, Cape Fear Conference, AME Zion Church (also of the New England Conference, which includes Connecticut)
The Right Reverend Michael Curry, Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina, Episcopal Church
The Rev. Susan Parker, Pastor for Pastoral Ministry, Wake Forest Baptist Church
Randy Quate, North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends
The Rev. Peter JB Carman, Pastor, Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Resident Bishop, North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church
The Rev. Bruce Puckett, Interim Pastor,The Congregation at Duke University Chapel
Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Unity Fellowshp Church Movement Fourth Jurisdiction
The Rev. Sam Marshall, General Presbyter, Presbytery of Salem*
Dr. Bob Setzer, Jr., Pastor, Knollwood Baptist Church*
Click here to add your name to the statement.