From despair to hope: A pastoral word

We as United Methodists express our deep grief for the horrible violence wrought in Paris, France, upon three police officers, 12 journalists, and members of the Jewish community, resulting in 17 deaths. Three perpetrators of the violence also were killed. We grieve with the families and friends of these victims, and offer our deepest condolences for their losses.

Our United Methodist Book of Resolutions emphasizes, “God does not meet violence with violence” (¶3421). Rather, God calls for right relations among humanity.

As Christians, we know that the Almighty grieves over the deep divisions and brokenness of God’s creation. God hears, just as with Cain and Abel, the cries of brothers fighting one another, and the cries of all God’s children when they are living in fear and despair.

All God’s people are made in the image of God. Yet, we live in a broken world, filled with the temptation to despair in the face of senseless violence. Systemic discrimination can lead to a world that inspires persons in such despair to find solace in violence while forgetting their own dignity.

Young, alienated persons are particularly vulnerable to the deadly allure of violent acts as a response to perceived injustices. This allure leads to a false sense of freedom found in self-destruction when you have nothing left to lose.

We desire a world in which freedom means God’s abundant life for all, and most certainly peace with justice for all.

May God’s mercy be upon all God’s children, and may we seek out the reconciliation of all people.

—The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
General Secretary
General Board of Church & Society
The United Methodist Church
January 13, 2015

Editor’s note: The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

Contact Info

Wayne Rhodes
Director of Communications
General Board of Church & Society
The United Methodist Church
(202) 488-5630 / wrhodes@umc-gbcs.org