Saturday, June 18, 2016


At home in Australia, my colleague Rev Jana Norman is organising a prayer vigil, remembering victims of the horrific attack on people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Jana lived and worked in the city for several years.

I have been reading responses from various religious leaders around the world including the Episcopal Bishop in Florida and other leaders in the Episcopal Church (and many more!).

I applaud the comments made by the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, including the challenges he recognises for the global church. He writes:

The Uniting Church in Australia expresses its deep sorrow at the deaths of 49 people in a despicable act of violence at a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the US state of Florida over the weekend.
No words of comfort we say are enough to console the families and loved ones, or to heal the damage done by this hateful act of homophobia.
Murder for whatever reason - religious, racial, or on grounds of sexuality or gender - is an outrage against humanity and God’s creation.
The horrific attack in Orlando has raised strong and legitimate feelings among the LGBTIQ community and others about the failure of the world’s religious to love all human beings equally regardless of sexuality.
As Christians we need to reflect seriously on the fact that even our prayers for the dead are being heard as hypocrisy in some ears.
For our own part, Uniting Church members must reflect on our commitment to accept LGBTIQ people as full members of our church; confess and repent our own failures to accept people equally; and recommit ourselves to rejecting homophobia in all its forms.
Amid our own prayerful reflection, today we give thanks to God for all those who work to eradicate homophobia and all forms of hate in our world.
Stuart McMillan, President, Uniting Church in Australia
I have collected a number of resources for congregations to use and uploaded them to my worship resources website here. I appreciate the work of Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, and the way she has crafted words so quickly in response to the Orlando tragedy. I commend it to you for your own prayerful reflection. Although it's specifically U.S. in context, it resonates globally. 

To a Place of Celebration
EBENEZER D (“Why Do Nations Rage Together”)
To a place of celebration filled with laughter, dancing, joy,
Came such violent devastation— one man’s efforts to destroy.
God, we grieve for loved ones taken; we lament, “What can we do?”
Now, we’re feeling lost and shaken; heal our nation! Make us new!
Weapons kill— and so does silence; hear our prayer as we confess:
We have given in to violence, we have bowed to hopelessness.
God, we’ve lost our sense of vision of a world where there will be
Plowshares made from violent weapons, justice in society.

Give our leaders strength for action, give them minds to mend our flaws,
Give them courage and compassion and the will to change our laws.
May we work for legislation that will curb guns’ awful toll.
God, renew our dedication to a world that’s just and whole.

Give us love to change our vision; give us love to cast out fear.
Give us love to welcome difference— love no hatred can destroy.
Only love can stop the violence; only love will bring back joy.
Give us love to speak with wisdom— love to work for justice here.

Tune: Thomas John Williams, 1890. Alternative Tune: BEACH SPRING
Text: Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:

Although access to guns is only part of the problem with what has happened in Orlando, I'm heartened to hear about this Mexican artist who has melted 1,527 guns, to make shovels to plant trees. The prophetic role of the artist! “If something is dying, becoming rotten and smelly, I think there is a chance to make a compost in which this vast catalog of solutions can be mixed in an entirely new way.” He was aiming to show “how an agent of death can become an agent of life.” These new shovels have then distributed to art institutions and public schools, where people in the community are now using them to plant a minimum of 1,527 trees. 

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