Sri Lanka Easter tragedy

Even as we celebrate the resurrection, we ask: how long, O Lord, how long must violence and terrorism continue to wreak havoc in your global communities.

Our deepest condolences go to the Sri Lankan community, which yesterday suffered a terrorist attack of extraordinary magnitude as churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, as well as hotels and a banquet hall were targeted by suicide bombers.

We condemn these acts of hate, terror and violence, and we mourn for the more than hundreds of people killed or injured.

That these attacks occurred during Easter Sunday services in churches brings a particular pain to Christians around the world. Easter Sunday is a day of joy and life, a celebration of the victory of God’s love as the fundamental ethic shaping the world. Churches, like all houses of worship, should never become sites of violence, death and destruction, and, in fact, should be sanctuaries of peace and healing.

Relatives light candles after burial of three victims of the same family, who died at Easter unday bomb blast at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, . Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago Church Blasts, Negombo, Sri Lanka – 22 Apr 2019. [Photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP/REX/Shutterstock (10215983k)]

We call on United Methodists to join us in praying for our siblings in Christ in Sri Lanka, the entire Sri Lankan community, and all who were affected by Sunday’s horrific events. We also call on United Methodists to join us in advocating for peace and the freedom of religious expression and observation worldwide. The persecution of Christians, particularly in places where Christians are a religious minority, is an ongoing reality which highlights the lack of this essential freedom around the world.

We call on the international community to support the efforts of the United Nations, through its secretary-general and the Alliance of Civilizations, to draw an action plan to safeguard religious sites, ensuring that they are “safe havens and not sites of terror.” We join with the U.N. in their April 3 resolution calling for all nations to promote the freedom of religion and to foster tolerance, peace and respect.

We stand in solidarity with the Sri Lankan community in the wake of yesterday’s attacks and pray for their physical, emotional, civic, social, and spiritual healing. In doing so, we highlight an excerpt from the statement from the past leadership of the United Methodist Inter-Ethnic Development Strategy Group:

“Let us remember, in the Body of Christ, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There is only [a] ‘we’ and ‘us.’ May the bombs that broke the hearts of our sisters and brothers in Sri Lanka break our hearts too [and lead us] to stand in solidarity with one another, and work for freedom for all to worship and practice their faith without fear.”

You can view this email on Church and Society’s website.