The mass murders of 49 people in Orlando, Florida on June 12 prompted a strong response from faith leaders throughout the nation. In the greater Los Angeles area, clergy of all faiths shared the following comments.
Bishop Theodore Larry Kirkland, presiding prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District of the AME Church: “I extend my prayers and condolences to the victims and loved ones of this senseless tragedy. Clearly, we need a spiritual revival in this country because it is all a part of a dearth that we have spiritually. We trust that people will have this revival and can be renewed. II Chronicles 7:14 says, ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and heal the land.’ The land will only be healed when we decide to live spiritually.”
Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, Faithful Central Bible Church, Inglewood: “It appears that the community of Orlando has undergone tragedy after tragedy in such a short time. Faithful Central wants them to know that a community of faith from Los Angeles stands with them. In times like these, we must cross the barriers that separate us and stand in solidarity, compassion and concern for those who suffer from the trauma of ungodly terrorist activity and the grief and sorrow of circumstantial tragedy.”
Pastor Xavier L. Thompson, Southern St. Paul Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California: “As we mourn the tragedy in Orlando, I urge the body of Christ to use this as an opportunity to put on display what the message of Jesus Christ is all about – love towards all mankind. Do not be distracted by what is going in the world, when the devil is doing what the devil does. We are to be vigilant and sober. The church must be as resilient, focused and steadfast in our faith as the adversary is in his quest. We have the message of Jesus and we are called to be the models of the message.”
Pastor Kelcy Steele, First AME Zion Church – LA: “This is an unspeakable tragedy and we should take extended time to mourn, to pray for the families of those murdered and injured, and to consider the depth of evil in the hearts of men that this senseless act represents. The fact that this is a gay bar makes no difference. We are all especially broken at some level. These were human beings who were innocent and had their lives taken. We know God values and loves all people, as do we at First A.M.E. Zion Church-Los Angeles. We extend our deepest expressions of sympathy to all the loved ones experiencing grief today.”
Pastor Mark E. Whitlock, Jr., Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, Irvine: The barbarism and carnage of fifty men and women in Orlando is a result of hate for the LGBT community. The faith community must speak out and stand up against hate, homophobia, and gun violence. It was just one year ago nine lives were taken in a planned act of racial hatred at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. We have become a country that preys on one another instead of praying for one another. We must have stronger gun control laws!”