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Letter from The Rev. Dr. Greg Jones Regarding Orlando Tragedy


To those in our beloved Community of Faith,

The mass killing in the gay night club in Orlando has unleashed a torrent of feelings – shock and sadness, fury and fear, helplessness and hopelessness. People of faith are called to bring healing where there is pain, hope where there is despair, and to resist xenophobic actions by standing with those who are persecuted. In addition, I believe we should resist the temptation to draw sweeping conclusions based on the actions of one deranged individual.

On Sunday night, June 12, we had a gathering of about 50 people in Community Hall – 25 members of Westminster and 25 members of the local Muslim community. For weeks we had planned to host an Iftar dinner with our Muslim friends as they ended their fast for the day. We had planned to hear more about Ramadan and the importance of fasting in Islam.

However, the tragedy in Orlando demanded that we address acts of terror, homophobia, and fears that there would be a backlash and perhaps acts of violence against Muslims. There was good, honest, and open discussion that needed to happen in a large group, followed by conversations around tables as we broke bread together. The evening brought us closer together.

On Monday evening, June 13, The Rev. Sudie Niesen Thompson, Elder Fred Carspecken and I attended a candlelight vigil that was held near the church. I was asked to speak and told those gathered that Westminster is an open and welcoming community of faith. I challenged people to support one another and encouraged people to treat all others in the same manner that you want to be treated – with compassion, understanding, and respect.

You have likely heard a great deal of commentary from reporters, commentators and political figures. I want to share two statements by local religious leaders (and friends of mine) that you might have missed. The first is from our Executive Presbyter, Jim Moseley, and the second is from Naveed Baqir, a leader in the Delaware Council on Global and Muslim Affairs. Simply click on each link.

I believe God is both saddened and outraged by this horrific event. Pray that God may show you where to extend compassion, to stand for justice, and to spread peace.