Bishop Frank J. Beard has issued the following pastoral letter concerning the shooting in Pittsburgh:
Our Nation and our World faces another horrific act of hatred and violence. The recent tragic shooting that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh affects all of us. Our prayers and our hearts are extended to the Tree of Life family and to the Pittsburgh community. Our prayers are also shared with those brave first responders who willingly placed themselves in harm’s way in order to protect others. We pray for all facets of their continued healing.
The following paraphrased words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ran through my mind as I learned of this event while here in England on a Wesley Heritage Tour, “Let no one drag you down so low as to make you hate them.” As people of faith we dare not return violence with violence or enter into the realm of hatred and denigration of others. We must not embrace fear in the face of this and other attacks leveled against worshipping communities anywhere.
While I encourage IGRC leaders to develop a proactive plan that could assist in the safety of members and constituents, I do not and will not support any plan that calls for non-authorized, non-police trained and sanctioned members or constituents to arm themselves for worship. Our Conference Insurance carrier, Church Mutual, can assist with safety plans and proactive response plans that do not involve IGRC members (Clergy and Laity) bringing weapons into worship.
Please keep praying for all Communities of Faith to work together to shine light on the path of reconciliation and peace. Pray for the Tree of Life Synagogue and for our brothers and sisters that are facing the crippling effects of hatred and racism. Let us be determined in the face of this and other senseless acts of violence to remain committed to promoting peace and justice.
Bishop Frank J. Beard