Another tragedy, another reminder

By Bishop Peggy Johnson

Our country is still reeling from the recent incident in New York City where a terrorist brutally ran over and killed innocent people with a truck. Now we learn of another heinous, hateful act of unbelievable violence against innocent people.

This time it is in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. This time it strikes especially close to home. This time it is in a church, where unsuspecting members—children and adults—were gathered for worship.

Fifteen seconds of automatic weapon gunfire erupted in a horrific mass murder, the worst ever in an American place of worship and in Texas’ history, killing 26 people and wounding many others. This terrible act of violence has caused profound devastation and inconsolable grief. There are no words that can come close to healing such emotional and spiritual wounds.

The Baptist church’s pastor, the Rev. Frank Pomeroy, was out of town when these murders happened. But the words that he preached to his congregation the Sunday before may shed some light on the future. On a website known as www.heavy.com  (November 5, 2017) the pastor’s sermon was quoted: “God’s understanding is far greater, and there may be things that are taking place that you don’t understand. But you still need to do what God is calling you to do.”

These prophetic words speak to us this day. As Christians, we are called to pray, to continue to speak out about how to live in this world in nonviolent ways, to examine our weapons laws for ways to be more protective, and to find ways to prepare our churches for the unthinkable.

A final reminder is that mental health is often in the mix when people perform horrific acts of mass murder. Our country could and should be doing much more to provide for more mental health services. It is just as important as medical (physical) health care.

Please remember that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not murderous or violent, and we as the church need to continually be about the business of ministering to this community with compassion and grace.

NOTE: Church Mutual Insurance Company offers several risk control webinars and articles on its website that could be helpful to any church. Please check them out, use this valuable information and share it with other churches.

  • Armed Intruder
    Church Mutual has partnered with industry experts to keep your people safe before, during and after a violent attack. Firestorm, a nationally recognized leader in crisis management, helping clients minimize disaster exposure and plan for a crisis, and ALICE Training Institute, the number-one active shooter civilian response training organization in the nation, have come together to bring you this informative webinar series.
  • Protecting against catastrophic violence
    Although catastrophically violent events are not frequent, the consequences are tragic. With the recent rise in active shooter incidents, specifically, many organizations are asking questions about how to make sure they are prepared for such violent events.“There are several precautionary measures that can be taken,” said Ron Aguiar, director of safety and security at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., and author of Keeping Your Church Safe. “It starts with getting a group together to develop a plan.”
  • Pastors become chaplains after church massacre
  • Churches and Gun Violence: 7 Practical Preparation Tips
    The Rev. Derrek Belase, a former certified police officer turned pastor, with two degrees in criminology, is the Oklahoma Annual Conference’s Director of Discipleship. His current portfolio includes coordinating the Safe Sanctuary Training.Derrek believes that you can’t completely prevent gun violence from erupting. Even with the best laid plans or the best legislation. Then what? How can a church adequately protect itself? Here are seven practical tips that can help any church prepare for the unexpected.

Also, the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm offers this training opportunity to Eastern PA conference churches:

Bishop Johnson is asking for each of us to set up Active Shooter Training Workshops (“What churches should do”) on each of our Districts. The Rev. Mark Beideman will lead a South District training this Sunday, November 12, at 3 PM, at Downingtown UMC. Any district is invited to send folks to our training for now. Mark may be able to come to other districts to offer trainings at other times.

Republished from The Bishop’s Blog