PC(USA) leaders mourn victims of Orlando nightclub tragedy, recommit to advocating for a just society

June 14, 2016


We join our heavy hearts with the great multitude of those who mourn the killing and maiming of so many of our brothers and sisters at the Pulse club in Orlando, Florida.

As people of the Reformed tradition, we are not naïve about the reality of evil in the world in which we live, or the capacity within us all to choose evil over good. Nor can we doubt the profound capacity to accomplish such evil deeds in a society overrun with weapons designed to kill. Even so, it is shocking when that evil is manifest in such a horrendous way.  

We applaud the courage of those touched by these killings, who even in their grief, have joined together to declare their intention to stand firm against all the forces in the nation and the world who wish them harm. We pledge our support to them and promise to work with them, as we seek to quell all the forces in our society that divide us.

It would be naïve to ignore the implications of this brutal attack for the LGBTQ community as a whole. Likewise, we would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge the fact that the attack in Orlando primarily impacted people of color, particularly the Latinx community. This provides a painful reminder that experiences of oppression are shaped by multiple social identities and lived experiences.

Facing this evil, we reaffirm the commitment of our own General Assembly to oppose all efforts to demean or exclude those in our society and our churches whose sexual orientation has made them targets of abuse and hatred.

In that regard, we stand with our friends in the Muslim community, knowing that there are those who continue to stereotype all persons of Muslim faith or identity, and who will characterize the attack as further evidence of the danger posed by such persons within our midst. We also stand also with immigrants and oppose any effort to turn this tragedy into a cynical opportunity to demonize people who seek freedom of movement.

As we share our grief for those lost and those scarred by this violence, let us renew our own mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to choose love over hate in all our relationships and to “seek the peace of the city” in the living out of our faith.

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Heath Rada
Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014)

Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency


  1. Thank you so much for speaking out! We need to send a LOUD message of love and support to those who are hurting at this time.

    by Mary Leong

    June 16, 2016

  2. Thank you for this good statement. I am thankful to serve with a church that can speak honestly and compassionately, can admit our faults and sins, and can offer a sincere and thoughtful apology to those we have harmed.

    by Rev. Lorelei Kay

    June 16, 2016

  3. Thank you for this expression of the PCUSA! I will pray for you from Colorado, as you discuss and wonder into, what actions can come from such violence. As the pastor who has held the tears of so many with two major mass shootings in our neighborhoods, my invitation is to do something. This pastor is tired of prayer vigils. Of course I believe deeply in the power of prayer. I also believe one of the powers of prayer is it changes us. It never was intended to lull us to sleep, to forget about what just happened and move forward. What that does is ensure nothing will change, there will be more shootings, more prayer vigils. Our inability to move beyond the stalemates, the entrenched ideologies disables us from creating a new solution or trying something. I do believe love is the greatest force in our world. May we find a way forward in loving each other that creates a change.

    by Rev Dee Cooper

    June 16, 2016

  4. As we enter a time together at the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, this statement, the ones that follow and the work of the General Assembly can be an important part of a rising voice to diminish this violence in powerful ways. The most powerful of voices we have to share is the Love of God for all and our steadfast commitment to making sure everyone hears that clearly. We are praying for an Assembly that is led to understand the immense consequences of the decisions we make in these moments following the tragedy. The course of what will follow solidly rests with this church and its cohesive and vigorous leadership message. May it be so... Thank you, Ray

    by Rev. Ray Bagnuolo

    June 16, 2016

  5. Thank you so much for this statement. It means the world to those of us who have been silenced within our own churches. My only hesitation is the use of the language "brothers and sisters." This erases the many genderqueer, intersex, and nonbinary folks touched by this tragedy. Could we perhaps move toward a more inclusive "siblings"?

    by Kimberlee C Runnion

    June 16, 2016

  6. Beautifully crafted. It makes me proud to be a member of PCUSA.

    by Karen Brown

    June 15, 2016

  7. So glad to see support for the victims of this atrocious happening. Hope we have same regard for our live LGBT friends

    by Sandy Ronan

    June 15, 2016

  8. Thank you. As a gay man, who had to semi-hide my ordination as a Presbyterian Elder in the mid-eighties, I am thankful for where my church is at this time in history.

    by James Nicholson

    June 14, 2016

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