American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods shares, “We grieve with the American Baptist Churches of New York State and all of those affected by this horrific tragedy.”
The letter below was shared by the American Baptist Churches of New York State on Monday morning, May 16, 2022:
Our hearts ache and our tears flow for the City of Buffalo. On Saturday afternoon, a hate-filled person inflicted great violence on shoppers and staff at a Tops grocery store. We mourn those who died and pray for all affected by this mass shooting.
This was not only an attack on the people in the Tops store. It was an assault on a neighborhood, a city, a state, and a nation, particularly with the gunman’s racial hatred and white supremacy convictions at the core of his motivation and actions. In particular, this is an assault on people of color in our nation. This is not just an angry person’s actions. This is a battle that goes deeper than the ill intent of one person.
As the Apostle Paul wrote:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13, NIV).
This outrage perpetrated upon our brothers and sisters in Buffalo is an attempt by the “powers of this dark world” to destroy God’s beloved creation.
We encourage churches within Niagara Area Baptist Association to be in contact to share of needs and ways that the Regional family can be supportive. In particular, pray for the two nearest ABCNYS congregations to the affected neighborhoods: Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.
On Sunday this weekend, our churches gathered to pray together for Buffalo, and many heard the Gospel reading assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary from John, chapter 13. The Lord’s admonition to “love one another” felt even more intensely in light of such a weekend.
Let us be faithful witnesses to the Gospel, caring for one another, being with the communities most in need of our presence and support, and raising up solutions that reshape hearts and minds and especially our nation’s own. Part of our greatest ideals as Americans and American Baptists intersect in our concern for a better world, built together around love, not hate, and peace, not violent actions.
To all our NABA pastoral colleagues, we pray especially for all the religious leaders and churches in Buffalo who are helping people process this violence. The Region will be supportive as you request our assistance and presence as your Region staff.
Dr. James Kelsey, executive minister & Rev. Jerrod Hugenot, associate executive minister
American Baptist Churches of New York State