This statement was written by our Pastor, Andrew Long, and read at a vigil in Enid, OK, held after the horrific terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, on June 12, 2016.
To the community of Enid assembled in vigil and prayer on June 13, 2016:
In the devastating aftermath of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 11, 2016, the members and leadership of The First Presbyterian Church stand in solidarity with all those whose hearts and minds have been broken and enraged by these events. The failure of words to explain, comfort, and clarify at this time is enormous. Yet, our Presbyterian and Reformed heritage condemns silence in the face of such evil and loss of life. Therefore, we will not be silent.
With these words we state to the community and to the world what we believe and confess the ways we have failed to live according to what we believe:
We believe that God is the creator of all, the one who created humanity in God’s image and called them ‘very good.’ We confess that we have denied the image of God in others because of race, religion, creed, sexuality, age, lifestyle, and social condition.
We believe that God came to us in Jesus Christ, teaching us the ways of faith, hope, and love, dying on a cross to set us free from bondage to sin and death. We confess that we have co-opted the life and message of Jesus Christ to fit our political, ideological, and theological agendas, robbing the Gospel of its good news for all people.
We believe that God is alive among us in the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit, which empowers us to live God’s will and be transformed. We confess that we simply lock the Holy Spirit out, afraid that it may lead us to embrace the outsider, love the unlovable, and do things that society finds offensive.
We believe that God’s kingdom is a place where swords are beaten into ploughs, where war is practiced no more. We confess our love for violence, weapons, and the power we think they give us over others.
We believe that God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God. We confess that we only love as we want and not as God wants.
We believe that God is a God of forgiveness and grace, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. We confess our need for God’s forgiveness and grace, so that our words, our pain, our sin, and our confusion will be turned into right and just policies, loving actions, and the abundant life God promises to all people.
We state our beliefs and confess our sins, praying without ceasing for the day when violence will end, when peace and unity will cover the face of the earth, and when all people in all places know the embrace of God’s amazing grace and unconditional love.
In hope, and in peace,
The Rev. Andrew Philip Long
Pastor, The First Presbyterian Church of Enid, OK