The letter below will also be published in the local Virginia Beach newspaper, The Virginia Beach Beacon, on Thursday, June 20 and Sunday, June 23.
Prayer and Action:
A Letter of Solidarity and Support from American Baptist Churches USA
(PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482; www.abc-usa.org)
To the Virginia Beach Community,
As American Baptists from around the United States and Puerto Rico meet together for our 2019 ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach from June 21-23, 2019, we are acutely aware of the pain and suffering, and the loss and grieving, of residents of this wonderful shore community in light of the tragedy that unfolded on Friday, May 31. Sadly, tragedies like you have suffered also have occurred in other localities in our country and around the world.
The response of your city has inspired us, and we hope that our presence and conversations with the members of your community may contribute in some small way to healing and comfort. To this end, we shall pray specifically for Virginia Beach during our Sunday morning service and dedicate an offering to local churches and agencies that are responding to the tragedy.
American Baptists cherish life as a precious gift from God, and reject violence in all of its destructive manifestations. While respecting our Constitution and the liberties Americans cherish, we hope our society will unite around reasonable and responsible approaches that protect our communities from mass murder and the inappropriate use of firearms.
As a politically diverse denomination of 5,000 churches and 1.3 million members, we call upon our elected officials to adopt a spirit of bi-partisan cooperation, working together for the safety and welfare of everyone. We shall encourage our congregations and members, in partnership with others, to seek for creative and constructive ways to prevent future tragedies from happening.
In God’s Love,
Lee B. Spitzer, ABCUSA General Secretary
Josué Gómez-Menéndez, ABCUSA President
Philip James, ABCUSA Biennial Chairperson
James M. Harrison, ABC of the South Executive Minister (Host Region)
Special thanks to the following ABCUSA leaders who assisted in the publication of this message (organizations listed for identification purposes only):
ABCUSA Board of General Ministries Directors: Ken Atchison; Raimundo Barreto; Joyce Blandon; John Campbell; Judith Christiansen; Stephanie Commandest; Cecelia Dachtler; Emmett Dunn; Judy Fackenthal; Janice Fletcher; Bonnie Higgins; Paul Higgins; Zina Jacque; Dennis Johnson; Kurt Kaufman; Jose Manuel Magaña; Al Marks; Dean Parker; Bill Poland; Wesley Roberts; Angela Russell; Liani Colón Sánchez; Annie M. Svitavsky, Rosa M. Sierra; Bruce Van Der Beek; Tasha Wilson; James Wolfe
National Denominational Leaders: Louis Barbarin (MMBB Financial Services); Valoria Cheek (American Baptist Extension Corporation); Priscilla Eppinger (American Baptist Historical Society); Susan Gillies (retired); Jeffrey Haggray (American Baptist Home Mission Societies); Patricia Hernandez (Women in Ministry); Gina Jacobs-Strain (American Baptist Women’s Ministries); Sharon Koh (International Ministries); A. Roy Medley (retired); Randolph and Leslie Miller (Ministers Council); Alan Musoke (Office of the General Secretary); Marsha Scipio (Office of the General Secretary); Perkin Simpson (American Baptist Foundation); Reid Trulson (retired); Kevin Walden (Office of the General Secretary); Jeff Woods (Office of the General Secretary); Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III (retired)
ABCUSA Regional Executive Ministers: Douglas Avilesbernal (Evergreen); Steve Bils (Central Pacific); Tim Brown (Growing Healthy Churches); Edgardo Caraballo (Puerto Rico); Yvonne B. Carter (Cleveland); Mark Click (Ohio); Robert D. Cochran (District of Columbia); Cheryl Dudley (Metro New York); Dale Edwards (Vermont/New Hampshire); Soozi Whitten Ford (Indiana/Kentucky); Joan Friesen (Indianapolis); Paul Gibson (Great Rivers); David Gregg (Metro Chicago); Sandra Hasenauer (Rochester Genesee); Gregg Hemmen (Central); James Kelsey (New York State); James McJunkin (Philadelphia); Miriam Mendez (New Jersey); Mary Day Miller (Massachusetts); Marie Onwubuariri (Wisconsin); Andy Quient (Los Angeles, Southwest, Hawaii); Randy Rasmussen (Dakotas); Charles Revis (Northwest); Harry Riggs (Connecticut); Jacquline Saxon (Mid-America); Mike Sisson (WV); Robin Stoops (Nebraska); Steve Van Ostran (Rocky Mountains); Tom Wiles (Rhode Island); Michael A. Williams (Michigan)