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The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
and his soul hates the lover of violence. -Psalm 11:5 (NRSV)

WASHINGTON: The tragic news of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this morning, coupled with the attempted mail bombings of numerous American public figures, as well as a racially-motivated shooting in Kentucky deeply grieves the National Council of Churches. We fervently pray for healing in our nation.

The spike in divisive and hateful rhetoric at all levels of our society has unleashed dangerous forces. We plead for calm and civility to be restored and we request our local congregations to engage in prayers for peace during upcoming worship services.

Jewish and Christian leaders are scheduled to meet for dialogue this coming Monday and Tuesday. This long-scheduled session will provide an occasion for our communities to weep and lament, to affirm our commitment to one another and to the task of ending antisemitism.

We are thankful none of those targeted in the attempted mail bombings were injured and we are grateful the alleged perpetrator has been apprehended.

These crimes coincide with the racially-motivated killing of two African Americans in Kentucky.  Ending racism was the focus of the NCC’s recent “Christian Unity Gathering.” The NCC Governing Board in its October 17 statement, “The Urgent Need to Lift our Voice in Our Elections”, noted prophetically: “Truly, our nation is at a crossroads with decisions being made each day that impact the most vulnerable in our society—those who we are called by God to serve. As a nation and global community, we are at a tipping point on multiple critical issues that will impact our nation and the world for generations to come.”

As investigations into these killings and attempted killings continue, let us each search our hearts. We ask all candidates for political office to act with restraint, to forego insults, to remove attack ads, and to express respect for their opponents. We ask those currently holding political office to work in a bipartisan manner to seek solutions to our nation’s problems. We commit ourselves as followers of Christ to work with our interreligious partners to deepen understanding, to seek peace, and to do our part to help our nation move past the current crisis.

See also these previous statements: