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“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NRSVUE)

It is unimaginable that another community is in pain because of a horrific mass shooting, yet again we are asking questions as did one victim, “Why, why do people do this?” There is no justifiable reason for the slaughter of innocent people, but we grapple with what has happened in Lewiston, Maine, and surrounding communities and what continues to happen in communities across America.

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is adamant that as we pray, we also must work so that more communities are not ravaged by yet another mass shooting. What has happened in Lewiston has engendered fear and anguish among residents and again families will helplessly stand by the gravesites of their loved ones. Such tragic events force children to become witnesses to senseless and random violence that will impact their lives for years to come. What has happened compels us to continue seeking ways to advocate for victims while unresponsive federal lawmakers consistently refuse to pass common sense gun safety legislation.

The shooting in Lewiston is the deadliest mass shooting of 2023, with 18 lives lost and dozens injured. According to the Gun Violence Archive, so far this year there have been 565 such incidents across the country with four or more people shot. Recognizing the alarming rise in widespread gun violence and legislators’ lackluster response to enacting sensible gun reform, the NCC Governing Board passed a resolution calling upon its member denominations, partners, and others of good will to use their resources, networks, and influence to put an end to this violence ravaging our communities.

“We must find new ways to channel our collective energy toward ending rampant gun violence and building communities with resilience, unity, and hope where public safety is not an oxymoron and those who experience vicarious trauma can heal and receive the help they need to recover and thrive,” said Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, NCC’s President and General Secretary, who will be worshipping in Portland and Lewiston, Maine this coming weekend along with the Maine Council of Churches

Today, NCC again calls upon its member denominations and the broader community to intensify their advocacy for sensible gun reform and support systems to end gun violence in our communities. Additionally, NCC asks local congregations and others to extend their support in practical ways that will strengthen the Lewiston community as well as others effected by gun violence, and aid in the long process of healing and recovery. Just as the Lord is near the brokenhearted, so are those who stand in solidarity against such acts of violence.

Following are resources that may be helpful to individuals and communities affected by this trauma, including:

Grief Share
The Trauma Healing Institute
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
NCC Resource: A Christian Approach to Suicide Prevention