As two mass shootings over the weekend brought the total to three such tragedies in just over a week, Baptists prayed, met needs and called for an urgent look at how white supremacy can “fuel” violence.
The shootings — all committed by young men — took the lives of 34 people across three cities. In El Paso, Texas, a 21-year-old man is in custody after a shooting in a Walmart left 22 people dead and 26 others injured on Saturday (Aug. 3). Then early Sunday morning (Aug. 4), a 24-year old gunman killed nine in a nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio.
Those victims were added to the three killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California by a 19-year-old gunman July 28.
Southern Baptists are responding in the aftermath of the violence to minister to those affected. In El Paso, volunteers with Texas Baptist Men set up at a local shopping center to serve first responders and families affected. And Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief is sending a group of chaplains to El Paso, the group reported Monday afternoon.
Baptist churches from around the area also gathered Aug. 4 at First Baptist Church of El Paso for a prayer service that drew more than 400 people.
“Our intent is to say our churches stand together, and we want the community to know that,” FBC Pastor Mark Rotramel said. “This is not about our churches, but the Church.”
Jim Richards, executive director of the SBTC, expressed grief over the killings and a “pervasive evil” motivating such crimes.
“Racism, however it is expressed, is a blasphemy against the one true God whose image all women and men bear,” Richards told Baptist Press. “The idea that one race is inherently superior to another, whether it is called white supremacy or some other label, is unbiblical. The apostle Peter discovered at the house of Cornelius, as described in Acts 10, that God is no respecter of persons.
“Pastors of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention affiliated churches in the El Paso area are reaching out to their neighbors in the aftermath of this tragedy,” Richards said. “The SBTC staff is mobilized to help those churches share the love and comfort of Christ.”
Steve Stiglich, associational missionary for the Greater Dayton Association of Baptists, said he has reached out to the mayor in his city to offer support in any way officials might need it.
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Source: Baptist Press