A Statement from the North Carolina Council of Churches
As we approach one of the two most holy days in Christianity, our hearts are heavy. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, is unspeakable, unimaginable. Twenty first-graders – how our hearts have been broken to hear their names, see their faces, listen to their families. Six school officials, most or all of them killed protecting their students. All of them – children and adults – shot multiple times, as many as eleven for one of them. How can we put into words the horror?
And it is not only those precious lives lost in Newtown. Just this year, similar acts of large-scale violence have taken place at a theater in Colorado and a house of worship in Wisconsin. Other smaller acts of violence are too numerous to count. As followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we are compelled to speak.
First, we join in the shared grief of our nation and especially offer words of comfort to all of those who have had loved ones torn from them. We offer words of blessing and strength to those leaders in the faith communities of Newtown who struggle to minister to their devastated town. And we join with people of faith across the nation in praying for healing and a sense of peace that passes all understanding.
But we must not move on from this massacre, merely wondering where the next one will happen, and so we also call for change. While giving great respect to the freedoms afforded us by our founders and spelled out by our courts, we call on this generation of leaders to rethink the laws governing access to guns, especially those which enable a shooter to spray a classroom with scores of bullets in a few seconds of time. Surely our leaders, both at the state and national levels, can act with courage and wisdom and in a bi-partisan spirit to recognize that common-sense restrictions afford more protection and security than easy access to weapons capable of such horrific destruction.
We also call on the people of our state, many of them people of faith, to rethink frequently heard attitudes toward security. A heavily armed society is not a safe society. Ordinary citizens possessing semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines of ammunition do not advance personal security. Hiding our fears behind guns does not protect us from violence.
The time for prayer is now. But it is also the time for action.
Stan C. Kimer, President
J. George Reed, Executive Director
Leadership of our member bodies who have signed:
- The Right Rev. Porter Taylor, Bishop, Diocese of Western North Carolina, Episcopal Church
- The Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Reinhold, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Coastal Carolina
- The Rev. John M. Richardson, Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina
- The Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
- The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director, MCC Churches Global Justice Institute
- The Rev. Haywood T. Gray, Ex. Secretary & Treasurer, General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
- The Right Rev. Kenneth Monroe, Presiding Bishop, Central NC Annual Conference, AME Zion Church
- The Rev. Duane Beck, Bishop, Eastern Carolina District, Mennonite Church, USA
- The Right Rev. Darryl B. Starnes, Sr., Presiding Bishop, Albemarle Conference, AME Zion Church
- The Right Rev. W. Darin Moore, Presiding Bishop, North Carolina Conference, AME Zion Church
- The Right Rev. Roy A. Holmes, Presiding Bishop, Cape Fear Conference, AME Zion Church (also of the New England Conference, which includes Connecticut)
- The Right Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina, Episcopal Church
- The Rev. Susan Parker, Pastor for Pastoral Ministry, Wake Forest Baptist Church
- Randy Quate, North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends
- The Rev. Peter JB Carman, Pastor, Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church
- Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Resident Bishop, North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church
- The Rev. Bruce Puckett, Interim Pastor,The Congregation at Duke University Chapel
- Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Unity Fellowship Church Movement Fourth Jurisdiction
- The Rev. Sam Marshall, General Presbyter, Presbytery of Salem*
- Dr. Bob Setzer, Jr., Pastor, Knollwood Baptist Church*
- The Rev. David Guthrie, President, Southern Conference, Moravian Church in America
- Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey, Retired, Western North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church
- The Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh
- Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, Resident Bishop, Western North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church
- The Most Rev. Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte
- The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shoemaker, Pastor, Myers Park Baptist Church
- The Rev. Ted Churn, Interim Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk, Presbytery of New Hope*
*For identification purposes only
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