Houston Faith Communities in Solidarity –Standing With Orlando
June 12, 2016 By Rev. Vicki Sheil-Hopper
Following the events that occurred at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando Florida on Saturday night many of us have had the difficult task of not only officiating our normal Sunday tasks as pastors, but to also share the difficult, horrendous, and heartbreaking news of the forty-nine lives lost and the more than fifty people injured in the shooting that occurred at approximately two am. I was no different than many other pastors, up early preparing the finishing touches on my message when I first read then saw the events still unfolding. We have seen the worst and the best in people all in the span of less than twenty-four hours. As many cities across the nation prepare for or are already having their Gay Pride parades, one wonders could it happen here, are we safe or just a target?
Tonight more than forty clergy persons across many denominations and religions gathered together at Resurrection MCC, holding an interfaith healing service. Of the clergy in attendance six were from the Houston Association, and another four pastors had added their names and churches to the list of supporters of the event. In attendance at the service were more than six hundred people. We sang, prayed, expressed our anger, sorrow, loss and confusion of the events that have taken place. The service was very moving with a Buddhist Monk chanting, a Rabbi singing in Hebrew, reading of the names of each person killed along with pictures of most of the victims and a choir that had many in the pews weeping.
Coming out of the service tonight not only did people of many faiths, denominations and religions stand together in solidarity but they also stood firmly together clasping their neighbor’s hand saying we will not be afraid, we will live the life that God has and is creating for each of us; we will not turn back, we shall overcome. We choose to act with love and forgiveness not with violence and hatred. We believe that peace will overcome the violence of the world and that we shall be a part of that change. May the Creator surround and enfold the friends, families and loved ones of all the people affected by the violence in Orlando and may they lean into to God knowing that they are not alone.