Response to the Shooting in Charleston Church

Beloved in Jesus, the Prince of Peace;

Our hearts are breaking today as we take in the news of another mass shooting. Today’s crime, apparently motivated by racial hatred, has taken the lives of nine innocent victims while they were gathered in prayer and Bible study.

Church bells are being rung across the nation calling us to prayer for the victims and for all who’s lives have been forever shattered by this tragedy. I ask that all of our congregations who can, do so tomorrow on Friday the 19th. Many are ringing their bells for 10 minutes to mark all who have died.

Bishop Charles vonRosenburg, the Episcopal bishop in South Carolina, has asked those who can, to pray the prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

I have joined with other religious leaders in the state of Rhode Island in issuing the following statement:

We reach out in loving concern to the people of Charleston, South Carolina, and especially the members and friends of the individuals who were slain while attending a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last night.  We not only honor the life of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney who lost his life shepherding his flock, but we also honor those who were gathered in prayer and reflection.  Houses of worship must be safe havens for all who are in distress and seeking God.  When any sacred space is violated, all faith communities are diminished.

Although when such a senseless act of violence occurs, we are filled with many emotions, but we cannot respond to a hate crime with more hate.  One Charleston resident is reported to have said, “We must love our way through this.”  We concur.

Let our response go beyond our expression of empathy and grief.   Let us recommit ourselves to the hard work of racial reconciliation and building communities of safety and love.  As our Presbyterian colleagues have stated,  “Arresting the shooter is the job of law enforcement.  Arresting hate is the work we are all called to do.”

Rev. Dr. Don Anderson, Executive Minister, The Rhode Island State Council of
Churches cell 401-578-0388

Rabbi Sarah Mack, President, The Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island,
Temple Beth-El

The Right Rev Dr. W. Nicholas Knisely, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Rhode

Rev. Dr. Tom Wiles, Exec. Minister, American Baptist Churches of Rhode

Rev. Barbara J. Libby, Interim Conference Minister, RI Conference of the
United Church of Christ

Rev. Sammy Vaughn, President, The Rhode Island Ministers Alliance, St.
James Baptist Church

Swami Yogatmananda, Vedanta Society of Providence

Fr Andrew George, RI Orthodox Clergy Fellowship

Father John A. Kiley, Ecumenical Representative, Diocese of Providence

Imam Farid Ansari, Muslim American Dawah Center of Rhode Island

Hilmy Bakri, President of the Board the Islamic School of Rhode Island

Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Sholom
and VP of the RI Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Leslie Y. Gutterman, Temple Beth-El

Pastor Jabulani McCalister, Senior Pastor , Calvary Baptist Church

Mufti Ikram, masjid Al Islam (N Smithfield RI)

Rev. Betsy Aldrich Garland, President, RISCC

Abdelnasser Hussein, Principle, the Islamic School of Rhode Island

Advocacy and Justice Commission, RISCC

Rev. Marie Carpenter, Director, Eldercare Ministries, American Baptist
Churches of RI

Martha Yager, American Friends Service Committee

Masjid Alrahman, Muslim Society of Rhode Island

Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley, URI Chaplain

Joanne Friday, Dharmacharya, Tiep Hien Order, RI Community of Mindfulness

Rev. Charles Berkley, Jr., Providence Assembly of God

Qutaiba Albluwi, Imam of Muslim Community Center of Kingston & University of
Rhode Island Chaplain

Abdul-Giyath Mayaleeke, MCCRI

+ Nicholas