UM Leaders Respond to Terrorist Attack

Members of the Florida Conference hold glow sticks during vigil for victims of Orlando terror attack. Photo by Lance Rothwell, Florida Conference

Members of the Florida Conference hold glow sticks during vigil for victims of Orlando terror attack.
Photo by Lance Rothwell, Florida Conference

by Walter Fenton-

Most United Methodists bishops and leaders have responded to the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, by strongly condemning the brutal murder of 49 people and the wounding of 53 others. They have also called the church to prayer and compassion for the wounded and the families who lost loved ones.

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said in his statement, “United Methodists across the world are horrified by the despicable act of terrorism… We join those who grieve. We pray for the victims, their families, and the LGBTQ community targeted by this hateful attack.”

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the Birmingham Episcopal Area prepared a prayer, which read in part, “God, we give these prayers over to you and your care, grateful that your love is stronger than hate… your goodness is greater than evil. Make us instruments of your peace and love, O God, in all that we do and say.”

And Bishop John Schol of the New Jersey Episcopal Area  wrote, “I confess, my heart is troubled. It is hard to feel peace in light of the horrific mass shooting… Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones and the people of Orlando.”

But others were quick to raise the issue of whether the UM Church was somehow complicit in the brutal attack.

As news broke of the slaughter on Sunday morning, Bishop Sally Dyck, of the Chicago Episcopal Area, ominously raised the question with a post on the Northern Illinois Conference’s Facebook page, “… how are we complicit in this story as we are in attacks against other groups…”

Dyck was echoed by Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area and by the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive at the church’s General Board of Church and Society.

In a message to members of California-Pacific Conference, Carcano wrote, “Is it possible that we United Methodists with such a negative attitude and position against LGBTQI persons contribute to such a crime?”

And in her statement, Henry-Crowe, presumably speaking for all United Methodists, said, “We … acknowledge and mourn the complicity of the Church in perpetuating fear and intolerance.”

It’s regrettable, that in just a matter of days or even hours after the attack, when many details regarding the assailant’s motives were unknown or what was known pointed to radical Islam, these UM leaders were busy raising the specter of the UM Church’s complicity in the massacre. Since he was a Muslim, there is, of course, no evidence the attacker was motivated by or even familiar with Christian teachings on sexual ethics, let alone those of The United Methodist Church.

It’s sad to see church leaders use the incident as an attempt to score political points in the midst of a terrible tragedy. United Methodists across the theological and ideological spectrums roundly condemn the attack and feel nothing but compassion and goodwill for the bereaved and the wounded.

Instead of taking the high road and choosing to speak on behalf of all United Methodists, it is embarrassing when church leaders choose words that ill represent the church and further divide its people.

It’s obvious that some United Methodists oppose parts of the church’s sexual ethics, where others are in support; that debate will go on. However, United Methodists are united in their condemnation of this brutal terrorist attack, in their sympathy for those who have lost loved ones, and in their prayers for those recovering from physical and psychological wounds.

To see Good News’ statement on the attack click here.

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and analyst for Good News.   

Comments

  1. Lynn Owen says

    I am profoundly puzzled by reactionary statements proffered by some in the UM church
    who propose to speak for The United Methodist Church . They seem to share personal views
    as those of The Church. Personal emotions, for whatever reasons, should not be interjected
    into any decision-making process. The influence of “me” instead of “we” into our reasonings
    cloud our decisions. The Bible is still the only reference book that can be relied upon. It
    contains rules, some for “DO”, some for “NOT DO”. There are even instances where
    no rules are expressed. That is where we utilize The Holy Spirit to assist us with whether
    to “DO” or “NOT DO”. An example of this follows from this article :
    In a message to members of California-Pacific Conference, Carcano wrote, “Is it possible that we United Methodists with such a negative attitude and position against LGBTQI persons contribute to such a crime?”

    I would remind some that Christ died for ALL, not some. And they ALL must be alive to accept Him.
    If the rules of The Bible bother you, you should consult The Author.
    Christ is The Only Answer.

  2. It upsets me to see terrible events like Orlando twisted and manipulated for political gain, especially by church leaders. It strikes me as being quite selfish in a time great need.

  3. Licensed Local Pastor says

    This is sad and disturbing. Bishop Sally Dyck obviously is more of a political activist than a spiritual leader for the church. After her rant at General Conference under the guise of a “sermon” I was left wondering, why she didn’t leave the denomination if she really and truly felt that. What both Bishop Sally Dyck and Minerva Carcano don’t want to realize is that the person who committed these murders was not influenced by any United Methodist teaching, or any scripture in the Bible we read. hate is real, evil in this world is real and political statements like this do nothing for trying to be a voice of peace and reconciliation. As far as Henry-Crowe, presumably speaking for all United Methodists, saying, “We … acknowledge and mourn the complicity of the Church in perpetuating fear and intolerance.” She does not speak for me or for other United Methodists. Apparently all three of these people are reading a different book than the rest of us.

    And the leadership wonders why they are losing members, maybe they should get back to providing what people are looking for, a relationship with Jesus Christ that transforms lives and not another political action group.

  4. What part of radical Islam do the liberals not understand? But wait —,they’re following the secular liberal playbook to never let a tragedy go to waste. They know what they’re doing and it is despicable. Of course they should resign from the UMC if they have an ounce of integrity. Well, the time is coming when they WILL have to decide as the split of the church is already underway.

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