Local faith leaders pray for New Zealand tragedy victims

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Fear, grief, loss, pain, and anger converge in our hearts at the murder of 50 innocent prayerful people, and the injury of 50 more, who were gathered in two sacred Muslim houses of prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand. The loss of life comes with the devastating loss of human dignity at the hands of an avowed White Nationalist, a White Supremacist and racist, hate-filled individual. The mass shootings in the Christchurch Mosques, Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, are just a few of the domestic terrorist acts we are witnessing in our world today. They are driven by a movement defined by bigotry and terror, anti-Semitism, and anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant platforms. When hate-filled people are moved to bring guns and ammunition to a house of worship, what can stop them?

We, the Inter-Religious Clergy Caucus of the Flathead will place the power of prayer and our prophetic wisdom shared by ancestors of peacekeepers throughout our country and God’s Planet, toward this barbaric movement. We seek an end to this insidious and murderous movement that has roots in our own valley and has spread throughout the world. We have experienced this hatred and fear-based movement in the Flathead toward our Jewish Sisters and Brothers in faith. We have seen it in the silence which has harmed our indigenous brothers and sisters. We join with all the good people of this valley who grieve and strive to create a world in which all those who seek a life of peace and faith can live together without fear or threat.

We will continue to pray for those who affiliate with the White Power movement, White Nationalism and White Supremacy. We seek to turn their hard hearts into the powerful alternative of neighborliness we cherish in this Valley. We will never cease to pray and act our way to care for the frightened good people who have been harmed by these inhuman acts in Christchurch and across God’s wonderful Earth. We commit ourselves and our communities of faith to continue to strive toward the communal well-being of fairness, justice, and love.

— Rev. James W. Aageson, Professor Emeritus, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota; Rev. Morie Adams-Griffin, Whitefish United Methodist Church; Rev. Glenn Burfeind, First Presbyterian Church of Kalispell; Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill, All Nations Fellowship, Columbia Falls; Rev. Peter Erickson, Our Saviors Lutheran Church (ELCA), Columbia Falls; Rev. Dan Heskett, Northridge Lutheran Church(ELCA), Kalispell; Rev. Jeryl Hollinger, Mountain View Mennonite Church, Kalispell; Sr. Judy Lund, St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, Kalispell; Rev. David H. Rommereim, Lutheran (ELCA), Whitefish; Rabbi Francine Roston, Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, Kalispell; Rabbi Allen Secher, Whitefish; Rev. Dawn Skerritt, Columbia Falls United Methodist Church; Rev. Scott Thompson, Bethlehem Lutheran Church(ELCA), Kalispell; Rev. Mary Wellemeyer, Unitarian Universalist, Columbia Falls; Rev. Andrew Wendle, Eidsvold Lutheran Church (ELCA), Somers; Rev. Jason Johnston, The Nazarene Community Church of Whitefish; Father Donnel O’Flynn, Christ Episcopal Church, Kalispell

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