A mass shooting is a test for any religious institution, and a massacre like the one that left 58 dead and hundreds injured in Las Vegas, even more so.
Hope Church, a growing multi-ethnic congregation that attracts 3,000 people each weekend, says it’s up to the challenge.
“This is the day when we get the opportunity to really rise up and serve the city and love the city and demonstrate the love of God for the city,” said Vance Pitman, the founder and senior pastor.
Pitman only learned of the magnitude of the killings at a country music concert when he awoke Monday (Oct. 2), but he quickly assembled his staff to sketch out the beginning of a response:
- The church called in all of its 15 pastors to be on hand as it opened its doors as a safe space for prayer and counseling, and, if needed, a shelter for anyone dislocated as a result of the shooting at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
- It urged its members to donate blood and worked to get a mobile blood unit on the church grounds to help with the effort.
- Pitman had several phone conversations with police and other law enforcement officials to let chaplains and officers know the church was ready, willing and able to provide physical and emotional support to anyone in need.
So far, the church has not heard that any of its members was hurt during the rampage, but it was still too early to be sure. Pitman said he received two calls, one from a member whose best friend was wounded, another from a member whose friend’s daughter was shot and undergoing surgery.
The church, which is located about 13 miles from the site of the shooting, the outdoor Las Vegas Village and Festival Grounds, sees its mission as being a blessing on the city.
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