Please Note: This letter is being mailed to each of our ABCNJ Churches.
Responding to the Tragic Attack in
Charleston, South Carolina
A Pastoral Letter for the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey - June 18, 2015
Dear Members and Friends of the ABCNJ Family,
Once again, our nation faces a horrific human tragedy – the attack upon the members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This venerable and historic congregation has long been at the heart and soul of the African-American journey toward civil equality and freedom. All people of goodwill stand together in mourning the loss of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s Pastor, and the eight other people who died in the shooting.
In response to this tragedy, I am encouraging all of our ABCNJ congregations to devote time during this Sunday’s worship services to stand in solidarity with Emanuel AME Church by offering prayers of intercession. In addition, perhaps you might invite your Sunday School classes to compose letters of condolence and send them to the church, or you might join with others in your community for prayer meetings or social times to express racial understanding and friendship. Whatever you and your church choose to do, please share your response with the region, so that we might help each other model what it means to be a spiritual community of reconciliation and love. Post your activity on our ABCNJ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/abcnj) or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
From the Bible, my thoughts today have centered on Paul’s words in Romans 12:9-18, 21:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer
Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor