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A Solemn Reflection on Massacre at L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh

“There is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance …” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4


The day after the gruesome massacre at L’Simcha (Tree of Life) Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, we lament the loss of 11 precious lives who died and the 6 people who were wounded. We detest the repulsive and malevolent evil that fills a person’s heart to carry out such execrable violence. Senseless violence that is contemplated, attempted, or inflicted remind us that evil is utterly destructive; hate is absolutely repulsive. And, the ramifications are catastrophic and self-defeating.

Today, we mourn because we suffer together with the families and loved ones of those we lost. Our hearts break for the families, and we are intensely prayerful for the 6 people who are alive but wounded. We mourn with our Jewish sisters and brothers who feel the whiplash of lingering antisemitism that has plagued their community for thousands of years. Our nation, once again, has succumbed to senseless aversion and ferocity.

Another faith community (this time – a synagogue) is devastated, pulling the bandage off the emotional wound that lingers from the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.

Sociologists have noted that congregational spaces (i.e. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) exist as beacons of hope for the people in our communities. Violent shootings in congregational spaces not only desecrate the sanctity of sacred space but are also an assault upon a community’s symbol of hope.

Every citizen of the world must condemn all forms of religious hate, racism, xenophobia, political violence, and any other manifestation of intolerance. We do not have to agree in order to be civil. We must not seek to champion a cause at the demise of other people.

Let’s strongly detest hate, cling to love, and pursue justice with all of our hearts and at all cost. We must not allow revulsions and massacres to prevail as a new norm. Let’s learn civility and honor. Let conciliatory efforts be our story and love carry us forward.

Let’s pause and take this time to lament. We cannot afford to keep repeating nightmares like the one before us today….


Dr. Antipas

October 28, 2018

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Category: Fall 2018, Living the Faith

About the Author: Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pastor at The Potter’s House of Dallas, TX, and the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the Criminal Justice System Director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and president of the Global Institute for Empowerment & Leadership Development, known as GIELD. He has additional experience as an educator, academic lecturer, itinerant preacher, pastor, youth director, motivational speaker, and Christian musician. He is the author of Is Christianity the White Man's Religion?: How the Bible Is Good News for People of Color (IVP, 2020), The Holy Spirit and Social Justice: Scripture and Theology (2019), Holy Spirit, Holy Living: A Practical Theology of Holiness for Twenty-first Century Churches (Wipf & Stock, 2013) and Unstoppable Success: 7 Ways to Flourish in Your Boundless Potential (High Bridge Books, 2014). | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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