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.
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.