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From Coordinating Presbyter Rev. Dr. Ted Land

To the churches and leaders of the Presbytery of Florida, Greetings in Christ Jesus!

In His life and ministry, our Lord and Savior often went away into the wilderness, or up on a mountain, to pray.

Last week, I was in the wilderness of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. Polly and I were there with about forty other people, at Ring Lake Ranch, an ecumenical retreat center.  In the midst of that beauty, grandeur, solitude, we were without internet, cell phone, television, radio, newspapers.

Word from the outside world trickled in slowly.  We heard of flooding in South Texas.  And then we heard of the terrible act of violence committed in Charleston, South Carolina.  Nine faithful followers of our Lord shot and killed while at a prayer meeting, studying the Word of God.

Shock, awe, grief, sorrow, were some of our responses. We were Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, but we were all horrified at what had transpired at Emanuel Church, “Mother Emanuel.”

I expect that for those of us who were gathered in those peaceful mountains, the memory of “Mother Emanuel” will be as strong as Pearl Harbor, or the day that President Kennedy was shot. 

There are different responses to any horrifying experience.  Some might seek the solitude and solace of the wilderness.  Some might become angry,  Some might simply pray.

I, for one, am heartsick that, in America the Beautiful, a young man felt the need to take the lives of innocent people simply because their skin was a different color, because they were perceived as belonging to a different race.

The only race that matters is the human race.  We are all made in God’s image.  We are all created equal.  We are each one, every one, children of God.   

We must not let the forces of violence, racism, hatred, anger, darkness, obscure the Light of the World.  We must be faithful.  We must forgive.  We must find ways to change the hearts and minds and souls of those who would deny everything that we as Christians believe.  Who would deny everything that our one nation under God indivisible is supposed to be.

I ask that our churches and our leaders continue in their prayer for the broken hearts and lives in the City of Charleston, and for the healing of our nation.

Your Coordinating Presbyter,

Ted Land