Dear friends in Christ,
As I write this, it has been one week since the horrifying murders of school children in Uvalde, Texas. The month of May brought mass shootings in New York, California, and other locations in the United States. Although I do a lot of talking for a living, I have found few words with which to express my emotions. People of good faith across this country are grieving, angry, and worried about the future.
What can we do? On the one hand, our faith teaches us to lift all things to God in prayer. (1 Peter 5:7). On the other hand, Scripture also teaches that empty words are devoid of true faith. (See the book of James for a discourse on the need for faith in action.)
Tragedies such as what we have witnessed in Uvalde, Buffalo, and at the Presbyterian church in California do not occur in a vacuum. We each share responsibility for prevention and response. I encourage each of you to turn emotion into meaningful action. The early Christians took actions that sustained human life, such as caring for widows and the sick in their communities. The Apostle Paul led an international fundraising effort to help the poor in Jerusalem. Let us follow in the footsteps of the early Christians as we accept responsibility for the well-being of everyone in our communities.
For our part here at New Hope, I have asked one of our members, an emergency response professional with over 20 years experience, to help us develop awareness and safety procedures for our congregation. Please note, those who study and work in emergency management have a variety of perspectives on how to prevent mass shootings and other tragedies. With this good leadership, we can take a big step forward in taking responsibility for safety in our community.
Additionally, you may have heard in late May that the Southern Baptist Convention was the subject of a scathing report on failures to protect churchgoers from sexual abuse. Our congregation made a commitment to child and youth safety years ago, with background checks, training, and appropriate policies. As we transition back to in-person activities during the summer and fall, we will be following all policies and procedures to keep our beloved community safe.
Finally, I was encouraged to receive an email from Orange County Schools, notifying parents that the school system now has a full-time director of security. The three local schools near our congregation are an important part of our community.
I am in prayer for each of you as you seek ways in your own life to turn emotion into meaningful, effective and substantial action. May this summer be a safe reprieve for children across this nation.