Gunman kills 8; church leader urges attention to ‘root of violence’
“It is past time that we get to the root of our violence.”
That was one of the messages from a United Church of Christ leader following a mass shooting in Indianapolis.
News reports said a gunman at a FedEx facility on April 15 killed eight people before, apparently, committing suicide. More people, an unknown number, were wounded in the shooting.
The Rev. Chad Abbot, Conference minister of the UCC’s Indiana-Kentucky Conference, issued a call to prayer April 16.
“We grieve for the families and for our communities as we hold these moments so tenderly,” Abbott wrote in an email to the Conference. “But, we also cry out along with the prophets and the psalmist in asking ‘How long, O Lord?’ A culture can only go so long without reckoning with the violence and trauma of its collective life. It is past time that we get to the root of our violence and so I pray along with St. Francis that God would make us ‘an instrument of your peace.'”
‘Tired of writing letters’
“This tragedy is another in a line of ongoing trauma in our culture that we have yet to reckon with,” Abbott told United Church of Christ News. “One has to wonder just how long a culture can not more fully examine its violence and the trauma in its aftermath before this simply becomes our commonplace weekly experience. And perhaps it already is our experience.
“I am tired of writing letters calling for an end to violence, racism and gun culture. At some point, any words that I might muster are weakened by trying to speak into the unspeakable. While our sighs might be too deep for words in the immediate wake of violence, we must reckon with what it is that brings us to such violence and the legislation and policies that contribute.
“We must actually do the hard work of dismantling the systems that create such a culture of violence, and such dismantling can begin with the hard work of our local churches being spaces of peacemaking and healing.”
He spoke of Indiana-Kentucky’s formal commitments to peace with justice and to mental health.
“As a Just Peace and WISE Conference, the Indiana-Kentucky Conference is committed to working towards such a culture of peace and healing. Across the United Church of Christ, we have all that we need to be the kind of church that doesn’t just cry out ‘How long?’ but actually participates in collaborating with the Holy Spirit to embody the Kin-dom God desires. Let us, then, actually ‘Be the Church.'”
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