UCC leaders release this statement after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue ended eleven lives and wounded six other people during services on Saturday, October 27.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
This morning, during Shabbat prayers, the sanctity of a temple was violated. This morning, as babies were named and people gathered with love, hate invaded their joy. This morning a lone gunman, armed with an assault weapon, several guns, and hate, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., and opened fire on a gathered community who had every right to expect they were safe in the temple.
But they were not.
We are not.
This morning, eleven people were killed, six more were physically wounded, and a community has been changed forever. Hate takes a lot from us. Whether that is hateful rhetoric, or hateful policies, or hateful actions, hate demands a high price. And when hate enters our sacred worship spaces as it did today, and as it did at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church two years ago, and as it did earlier this year at The Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, hatred never compromises and always consumes.
In moments like these, when we are grieving so deeply the lives that have been taken and the people who have been wounded, we realize how we have all been made to feel a little less safe. In moments like these, when anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and racism and xenophobia and transphobia are on the rise, sanctioned by policies and political and religious rhetoric designed to instill fear of one another in our hearts and minds, we must remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind. And as difficult as it may be in this moment to see beyond our loss, our collective strength is in what remains. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Not love simply as an emotional response, but love as a collective resolve.
Love that refuses to be consumed by hate. Love that removes the barriers between our faiths and our fears. Love that causes us to see the Divine in one another and, having seen what is holy in the other, refuses to let hate win. Love that demands accountable and respectful speech from those in authority. Love that demands sensible gun control in a country that has lost its way. Love that says when one hurts we all hurt, when one grieves, we all grieve, when one is unsafe, we all are unsafe. Love that gives life and refuses to let hate breathe.
The United Church of Christ stands with our Jewish siblings today in that love as we mourn this terrible tragedy in our midst. And we will not run. We will not hide. We will not shy away from confronting the toxic, white Christian supremacy that is masquerading as faith. We are here with you. We are praying with you. We are mourning with you. And we are loving with you until every street and every synagogue and every mosque and every sanctuary is free of hate. We are with you until love wins, and this is a just world for all. This is our collective faith. This is our collective hope. This is our collective love. And the greatest of these is love.
The National Officers of the United Church of Christ
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice and Local Church Ministries
The Rev. James Moos, Executive Minister, Global Engagement and Operations
The Council of Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ