from General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens
Yesterday hatred took the lives of faithful people and violated sacred space at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA. This tragedy, caused by gun violence and driven by anti-Semitism, should outrage us all. Alongside other Christian leaders, I strongly condemn the actions and motivations of the shooter who caused this carnage. I invite other followers of Jesus to join me in praying for those suffering right now and working to end these horrific episodes in our society that are occurring with alarming frequency.
When people gather for worship they seek to encounter the Divine, connect with one another, and experience a goodness that transcends human limitations. The act of entering holy space is foundational for all religious people and the freedom to do so is fundamental to a free society. It should never be threatened or violated. People created in the Image of God should not fear for their lives – or face their deaths – in a house of worship. This violence occurred in a specific place but it sought to destroy something we all cherish.
In this moment of great mourning, may God’s shalom find us all, and especially the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue and the wider Jewish community in the United States. No words can compensate for what was lost. This sorrow will last for many nights. Joy will only find us when the morning dawns on a new day when God’s vision for peace is realized in our society.