Written by Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
VALLEY FORGE, PA (5/18/22)—The American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) expresses heartfelt condolences to the victims and family members of those slain during a brazen act of racially motivated violence on May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. We stand in solidarity with the people of Buffalo, while praying for comfort on the part of all those stricken by grief due to this massacre.
In addition to condemning racially motivated violence with utmost vehemence, ABHMS deplores the race-based ideologies that threaten Black people and other people of color, and all violence motivated by ethnicity, religious identity or gender-based hatred. ABHMS offers humanitarian support to our neighbors in Buffalo and beyond, while recognizing that the carnage at the Tops Store is symptomatic of the virulent and rapidly increasing threat of white supremacist ideology in America.
Thirteen people, ranging in age from 20 to 86, were shot. Ten of them died. Eleven victims were Black, two were white. The shooter, Payton S. Gendron, a white man in his late teens, drove three-and-a-half hours from his home in Conklin, New York, to zip code 14208. According to census data, the population there is 78% Black, representing the highest percentage of Black people in Upstate New York.
A manifesto authored by the shooter confirms his plan—he yearned to kill Black people. Motivated by a racist belief that the increasing numbers of people of color in America are a threat to white people, he expressed intent to continue his rampage at “another large superstore” after leaving the Tops Store in Buffalo.
Such racist ideology has long existed in America, and it fuels efforts on the part of some to instigate civil war between white people and people of color, as witnessed on June 17, 2015, when an admitted white supremacist slaughtered nine Black churchgoers at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal in Charleston, SC.
ABHMS believes that all people are made in the image of God and are entitled to peace, dignity and safety—whether traveling to the store, attending worship, engaging in fellowship with friends and family, or simply enjoying life—without being subjected to acts of violence by white supremacists.
We call upon American Baptists and other partners in mission to join us in boldly condemning racially motivated violence—and to do so from our houses of worship and in the public square—while extending material support and comfort to those who have been victimized, and to pray that God will move upon the hearts and minds of those who are inclined to harm others to turn from their wicked ways.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
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.