Dear Beloved Community:
Sunday morning many of us awakened to the difficulty that comes from the news that Latin@ Night at Pulse, an LGBTQ community gathering spot... a sanctuary... a safe-haven... in the midst of Pride Celebration, this site had become the site of one of the worse mass shootings in US history.
If you are anything like the Psalmist, your bones and your soul have been deeply shaken with terror, and you may be crying out to God for rescue and respite from the chaos. Worn out from the groaning, eyes blurred from grief, a Queer Lament, a fully human lament (Ps 6).
Because there is grief that comes from the loss of life and this grief is multiplied by each person whose life was taken (49), each wounded survivor (53), and one lone individual who lost love. For each of them, someone - somewhere grieves.
For each family represented in each of these lives:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
And yes, even for Omar Mateen, 29 years old. We pray.
For each caregiver, care-taker, doctor, nurse, paramedic, first responder, police officer… we pray.
For each mental health provider, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, clergy, chaplain… we pray.
And we pray over and over again. After each tragedy, we pray. After each life lost to gun violence, we pray.
But, after we finish our prayers. In the midst of our still grieving hearts, let us take action. Let us advocate for reformed gun laws. Let us advocate for changed policies.
After the community of Newtown, CT suffered the loss of the lives of 20 children and six teachers, The Rev. Matthew Crebbin, said that "for people of faith, this is not a Second Amendment issue; it is a Second Commandment crisis…We have allowed fear and apathy to rule when it comes to guns in America. We have allowed the status quo to become perfectly acceptable. As a result, every year 30,000 precious lives –– each one created in God’s image –– are added to a tally that is already far too high."
Nelba Marquez-Green, whose daughter Ana did not survive the Newton attack said, “I am sorry that our tragedy here in Sandy Hook wasn't enough to save your loved ones. I tried, and I won't stop trying."
We, who are a praying people, need to take the action of prayer further. Pray, pray and pray. But then, take action.
If you are in need of prayer, know that you can count on us. We are a bilingual (Spanish-English), multi-cultural, diverse expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation leadership team that is loudly saying, presente. Aqui estamos para servirles – we are here to serve.
Our deepest condolences. With a profound sense of sadness for our communities but with everlasting hope in Christ.
Rev. Elivette Mendez Angulo
Proyecto Encuentros de Gracia y Bienvenida
The Rev. Felix Carrion
The Rev. Dr. Maritza Angulo de Gonzalez
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Ph.D.
Rev. Lizette Merchan Pinilla
Mr. Robert Ochoa
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel