VALLEY FORGE, PA (5/18/22)—General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods released a statement on May 18, 2022, following recent shootings in California, New York and Wisconsin. Read the statement below.
The recent shootings in Orange County, California at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, in Buffalo, New York, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin remind us of the deep and destructive hate that exists in so many people today. These shootings are a reminder that we are losing too many human lives to gun violence. We pray for the families and friends of the victims and for all those affected by these shootings. We also pray for discernment and fortitude to be about gospel work that opens our own eyes and hearts to the deep rooted causes of violence and transforms our learned ways of interpreting and responding to acts of hate and violence.
“As Christians we are conscious of the violence around us, but we have often been numbed by its frequency and enculturation in our lives. Too often we exhibit our conformity to the world by the vicious disputes in our churches. Rather than being witnesses to Christ’s transformative power, we have made choices that reflect our own rootedness in a violence-ridden society. This sad reality requires continuing reflection, confession and committed action as disciples of Christ.” -American Baptist Policy Statement on Violence, 1998
Given ABCUSA’s commitment to anti-racism, we particularly acknowledge that the racially motivated violence that victims suffered in Buffalo is deplorable, devastating, and evil. Senseless acts like these give evidence to the pervasiveness of racial injustice and the need for our continuing anti-racism work.
This week many of our American Baptist leaders are meeting at our National Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin for the first time in person in nearly three years. We are discussing ways to support our congregations and leaders and we are devoting significant time to conversation and team building. It is one thing to disagree with someone whom you trust. It is quite another to disagree with someone whom you do not trust and it is more difficult to trust someone whom you do not know.
When we as American Baptists exemplify trust, dignity, and respect toward one another, it provides hope to a world desperately in need of hope. May we continually seek to understand, to treat one another with respect, to act when there are injustices, and to lead in the ways demonstrated by our Savior and Lord.
2 If, then, there is any comfort in Christ, any consolation from love, any partnership in the Spirit, any tender affection and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.