Dear Still Speaking Youth Ministries,
We pause to share in the grief, sorrow and pain following the injuries and great loss of 50 lives in a hate crime that occurred in Orlando, FL late Saturday, June 11 and early Sunday, June 12. Our prayers are with the families and loved ones in this tragic occurrence. Our prayers and solidarity are with our nation and world as we continue to imagine and hope for a world of peace, unity, and a beloved community.
We firmly believe that God’s love is great enough for us all. We condemn any act of violence as well as acts of discrimination and profiled violence that seek to target and harm persons due to orientation, race, religion, gender and the like. During a time of great progress and strides for equality and inclusiveness; this tragedy is a painful blow.
However, it is not a setback to our progress or our resolve to be a community where all are welcomed. We will not become victims of fear or support the demonizing of one group in order to affirm another. We must not allow homophobia, Islamophobia and racism to prevail due to misguided fears and/or ignorance. This is a moment in time to recommit ourselves as One people in the body of Christ. This is a moment to affirm the Mosiac law to “love thy neighbor as thy self”. This is a moment to love through our prayers, our presence and our practice of justice and faith.
This may seem a monumental task, but we are able to achieve this, together. As our youth prepare to travel to Orlando for the National Youth Event next month–we will embrace our theme and scripture tightly with mission and purpose. Our theme calls us to simply “Believe” and it is underscored by biblical scripture, Hebrews 11:1 which states, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.”
Our hearts are heavy and our eyes are filled with tears, but our vision and hopes for justice, peace, equality and love remain clear and unburied.
We believe. We believe in a God of justice. We believe God hears our cries. We believe God is with us and laments with us. Even as we may not always see it clearly amidst such pain–we believe!
We will pause to remember these beautiful spirits who died senselessly, but not in vain. We will remember them at National Youth Event and in our daily work and witness. We invite you to share in this steadfast and unapologetic witness and work in solidarity with our LGBTQI and Muslim communities across the land.
John 13:35 ESV
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Colossians 3:14 ESV
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Rev. Waltrina Middleton
Rev. Waltrina Middleton is the Associate for National Youth Event Programming.