Orlando Massacre Response

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton



Earlier this week, I had the amazing privilege of opening our Annual Conference session with the major words from the minor prophet Micah.  Little did I know how important those words would become today when news emerged concerning the senseless and violent killing in Orlando, Florida that left 50 people dead, 53 injured, and countless others stunned by yet another act of violence.
The words of Micah to “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with Your God,” were originally spoken in the midst of emerging chaos and conflict.  This, Micah said, was the requirement of God.  It should be our requirement today as well.
To “do justice” in the midst of this latest tragedy is to commit ourselves to the hard but necessary work of advocating for those who suffer from the misguided and prejudiced viewpoints of others, this time innocent LBGTQ persons and others in a peaceful setting.  But it goes beyond advocacy.  To “do justice” is to work tirelessly in our work to fulfill the requirement of God to love our neighbor and work on their behalf to ensure that all of God’s children are safe, healthy, blessed, and valued.
To “love kindness” is to establish a daily passion for everything that is good, right, and holy in the way in which we treat one another, respond to sinful acts all around us, and lead others into an awareness of what a love for kindness can accomplish.  We are the ones who boast of a mission statement that uses the words “transform the world.”  Our response to hatred and violence must include the voices of God’s people who proclaim and demonstrate that loving kindness can change the rhetoric and the actions of others.
To “walk humbly with your God” is a clear acknowledgment that when we do not have adequate words or actions in the midst of senseless acts of violence all we can do is turn to our God with prayers of intercession and petition. Throughout the history of the human race, violence and evil have been a constant visitor.  But throughout, we have leaned on an unshakeable faith that, whether in life or in death, God will take care of God’s children.  In the wake of this latest disaster, we place the victims in the precious hands of our loving God.
The events of our Annual Conference session bore witness to our deep love and respect for one another.  We laughed and cried as we celebrated this special season of our lives together.  The worship was rich.  The teaching was inspiring.  The kind gestures and words were grace-filled and humbling.  And yet, my heart aches knowing that in Orlando, Florida tonight there is blood, heartache, and pain that will linger for a lifetime.
So it is with life.  Joy and peace are so easily replaced by sadness and discord.  In the midst of these frightening and fragile days, I invite you to join me in sincere, earnest daily prayers for the tragedy in Orlando and the ongoing presence of violence in our world.
And one more thing.  In the midst of your worship, your work, your play, and your ongoing life, don’t forget: DO Justice.  LOVE Kindness. And WALK HUMBLY with your God.
The Journey Continues, . . .
Thomas J. Bickerton
Resident Bishop 


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