By Jessica Brodie
United Methodists remain in prayer this month after the July officer-involved shootings in Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota and elsewhere.
In South Carolina, Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston issued a statement on the shootings, which was read at a July 10 Columbia District prayer vigil at Francis Burns United Methodist Church, Columbia.
“As a people of faith committed to social justice and opposed to gun violence and racism, we grieve for the lives lost and destroyed by these acts of violence,” Holston’s statement, “A Response to a Tragedy in our Nation,” reads in part. “Even in the wake of the gun violence in Orlando, we come again to a time to examine and set for ourselves specific goals. These goals should be a faith statement of witness, advocacy and prayer.”
Among other things, he urges the people of the UMC to continue to pray and be committed to the hard work of peacemaking in our communities.
The July 10 prayer vigil was a Service of Hope, Healing and Release. Organized by the Revs. Tiffany Knowlin, Robert Walker and James Friday, the vigil was an open gathering for United Methodists across the Columbia District to remember and respond to the deaths of those slain and provide a space for prayer, grieving and conversation.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, also issued a statement on behalf of the COB in the wake of shootings. Addressing what Ough called “a nation that is overwhelmed with anger, grief, frustration and despair,” the COB called upon the people of the UMC to enter into the “challenge and complexity of this present moment” through advocacy, prayer, dialogue and peacemaking.
“These deaths have left our hearts and voices crying for justice,” Ough wrote. “The preliminary evidence and the shocking video images are a convincing reminder that we have work to do. The deaths of young black males in encounters with white police officers call for the need of a bi-partisan political and legal response, beyond (but including) the statements and prayers of the church. The subsequent deaths of police officers remind us of the honorable service of the great majority of these public servants and the destructive cycle of violence and retribution. We pray for each family in their profound loss and grief.”
(Read Ough’s full statement here.)