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June and July Letter from Polly
Over the past few days, I have had a heavy heart thinking about the tragic shooting in Orlan-do. Seeing the pictures of men and women whose lives were taken away so violently. May each of us continue to pray for the loved ones of those who died and were injured.
I want to share with you how our denomination, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A, has responded: We join our heavy hearts with the great multitude of those who mourn the killing and maiming of so many of our brothers and sisters at the Pulse club in Orlando, Florida.
As people of the Reformed tradition, we are not naïve about the reality of evil in the world in which we live, or the capacity within us all to choose evil over good. Nor can we doubt the profound capacity to accomplish such evil deeds in a society overrun with weapons designed to kill. Even so, it is shocking when that evil is manifest in such a horrendous way.
We applaud the courage of those touched by these killings, who even in their grief, have joined together to declare their intention to stand firm against all the forces in the nation and the world who wish them harm. We pledge our support to them and promise to work with them, as we seek to quell all the forces in our society that divide us.
It would be naïve to ignore the implications of this brutal attack for the LGBTQ community as a whole. Likewise, we would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge the fact that the attack in Orlando primarily impacted people of color, particularly the Latino community. This provides a painful reminder that experi-ences of oppression are shaped by multiple social identities and lived experiences.
Facing this evil, we reaffirm the commitment of our own General Assembly to oppose all efforts to demean or exclude those in our society and our churches whose sexual orientation has made them targets of abuse and hatred.
In that regard, we stand with our friends in the Muslim community, knowing that there are those who con-tinue to stereotype all persons of Muslim faith or identity, and who will characterize the attack as further evi-dence of the danger posed by such persons within our midst. We also stand with immigrants and oppose any effort to turn this tragedy into a cynical opportunity to demonize people who seek freedom of movement.
As we share our grief for those lost and those scarred by this violence, let us renew our own
mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to choose love over hate in all our relationships and to “seek the peace of the city” in the living out of our faith.
Gradye Parsons - Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Heath Rada - Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014)
Tony De La Rosa - Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency