There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. –1 John 4:18
This morning we awoke to the horrendous news of the mass shooting of Muslims at Friday prayers in two mosques in New Zealand. In the Masjid an-Nur mosque (“Mosque of Light”), Christchurch, and in the Linwood Mosque, 49 people were killed and more than 40 are injured. We hold the victims and their families in prayer. As a Christian community of faith, the United Church of Christ stands with the Muslim community of New Zealand, in the U.S., and around the world, particularly those living with the daily realities of racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment.
We condemn this atrocious act of hate and terror and pray for the safety in worship for all communities of faith, especially Muslims today, and that they are free to do so without fear.
We reject the ideology of white supremacy, and any Christian justification of it, that remains prevalent in our country and in other places, an attitude that was cited in the manifesto of the arrested suspected shooter.
We strive to demonstrate our understanding of God’s love for all of God’s children by actively engaging with interfaith partners, including U.S. Muslims and globally, to know each other and to seek God’s justice based on shared principles of love of God and love of neighbor.
We offer our support for American Muslims and urge our members to find ways to express their solidarity with Muslim neighbors in their local communities across the country.
We strive to demonstrate a generous welcome to new immigrants, especially as they often experience rhetoric and acts of hate in many forms, unfortunately including fatal violence.
We commit to continue to work to overcome anti-Islamic sentiment through engagement and education in our churches. We remain vigilant in countering all forms of bigotry based on religion, race or any other category of identity, consistent with the statement of Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, the General Secretary of our partner, the Christian Council of Asia who said, “No matter what faith we adhere or ethnicity we belong to, everybody should be able to live in an atmosphere where peace and security is prevailed and sustained; any act of violence must be prevented with all possible efforts."
And as we mourn with the victims today, we offer this prayer of care and support:
Holy One, called by many names, our hearts are once again touched and broken by events in our communities. You created us from love and call us to love you and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Once again we find ourselves facing the reality that fear is among us instead of love.
We pray for the families and friends of those murdered and injured in Christchurch, New Zealand today. We pray for Muslim communities globally and extend love, peace and comfort in the midst of yet another tragic moment. We pray for healing for the injured and for lives that are torn apart today. We stand boldly as Christians believing that the love that comes from you is greater than the fear that destroys lives and communities. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
The Rev. Traci Blackmon
The Rev. James Moos
Associate General Minister of Global Engagement and Operations
The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson
Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations