Dear St. Mark's Community,
Our spirits are heavy with sorrow as another act of senseless violence has claimed so many lives.
By now, we all know the numbers. 49 dead and 54 wounded. We know that each one of these people is part of a circle of relationships-family, friends and colleagues who now face the long and difficult road of grief and healing. We know this was not a random act of violence. It was a targeted shooting, intended to create terror in our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We know that Muslims across our country, who are as horrified and grieved about this act as we are, now face the very real threat of violence. And we know that each one of these mass shooting incidents requires the skills of emergency responders who will now need time to heal from what they have seen and heard.
All of this damage is born of hate.
We are a community born of love. We are rooted and grounded in the love of God. Grafted on to Christ Jesus, God's love flows in us and through us. This does not distance us from the pain, sorrow and confusion of this broken world. Like the psalmist, we cry out to God because we know this is not how the world is meant to be. We bring our sorrow and even our anger to God, trusting our gracious God to show us the path of love.
St. Mark's is a people and a place for God's grace. Each time we gather for worship we hear the promise that the steadfast love of God is stronger than any form of hate. We have the chance to live this promise, as we care for one another in word and in deed. In the weeks ahead, as we all seek healing, you are welcome to come to the church for conversation or to pray any time during the day. The sanctuary is beautiful, quiet spot for prayer. There are staff members who will gladly pray with you. As your pastors, we are available for private appointments, as well.
We reach out with words and deeds of love. We are in conversation with other religious leaders in Tacoma, those who desire to reach out to both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities who have been particularly wounded by the shooting in Orlando. It is our desire that this act of violence will strengthen our connections to each other. As a gesture of pastoral care, we have used rainbow colored letters on the "Welcome" sign in the front of our church. Our community is filled with LGBTQ people and their families-mothers and fathers, grandmas, and grandpas, who need to know that there is a safe place to experience the love and grace of God. We hope that these colors send that message, and that St. Mark's can be one of those places.
With the Lord there is steadfast love and plenteous redemption (Ps 130)
Trusting in God's promise,
Pastor Jan Ruud
Pastor Rebecca Shjerven
Pastor Phil Rue