Let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.
— First Peter 3:11 (NRSV)
The news is so often overwhelming these days, but this last week has been particularly heartbreaking. I’ve just received an email “Call to Action”from the Conference Minister of the Penn Northeast Conference UCC, with the affirmation of the denomination’s National Officers and the Rev. David Ackerman, Conference Minister of the Penn West Conference UCC. Allow me to share some of it with you.
The news over the past weeks has revealed an undercurrent of hate within our culture and our country. Between the assumption that immigrants walking nearly 2,000 miles seeking asylum are seen as a threat to our security; the pipe bombs mailed to those who oppose our current political administration; the massacre of 11 Jewish citizens during services at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; and the shooting of an African American man and woman in a grocery store after a failed attempt to enter a church of Black worshippers, it is hard to find cause for hope in our nation.
The rhetoric of hate and divisiveness calls for a response from the faith community. While we should not advocate for candidates or political parties, we must advocate for justice, humanitarian treatment of our neighbors, and for safety in our places of worship. We are a diverse nation and until recently that diversity has been seen as a strength. We, in the Church, must stand as moral authorities proclaiming peace and hope, compassion and justice.
Wherever and whenever you have the opportunity to provide wisdom and comfort, inspiration and compassion, I urge you to do so. To be silent is to let evil prevail and we, as people of faith, cannot do that, any more than Jesus could do it in his time and culture. Find a way to bring peace and hope to your faith communities, your communities, our state and our nation.
Today we are asking our members to write prayer notes or notes of compassion to our siblings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Mail them from your local church to 5898 Wilkins Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.
The Rev. Bonnie Bates
Penn. Northeast Conference United Church of Christ
In support of our Jewish brothers and sisters, and in an effort to begin standing up to the violence and intolerance in our culture, I encourage you to take Rev. Bonnie’s words to heart. If you feel moved to write a letter, we will have materials to do so this week at church after worship. Also, I have just learned that there will be a Memorial Service this Wednesday at Temple Adath Yeshurun, 152 Prospect Street, here in Manchester. The service will begin at 7 PM. I will be attending, and I hope some of you will plan to join me there.
Yours in Grace,