NBC Atlanta Covenant Partners Remember the Massacre in Charleston and Mourn the Victims in Orlando
This week New Baptist Covenant partners Ebenezer Baptist Church and Park Avenue Baptist Church were among multiple faith communities and organizations that took part in a Vigil of Remembrance and Prayer at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The vigil was originally organized to remember and honor the one year anniversary of the tragic shooting of nine members of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina when, in view of the horrific attacks on the PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida the plans were adjusted to incorporate, honor and pray for the victims of that tragedy as well.
“Forgive us for our complacency for not speaking out when we ought to, standing up when we need to, being in solidarity when we must.” prayed Cassandra Henderson, Minister to Students at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Pastor Jen Lyon of Park Avenue Baptist led a reading from 2 Chronicles, reminding those gathered that God promises to have open eyes and attentive ears to those who gather together to pray. Much of the night focused on renewed calls for the church to engage the public square through bold action and prophetic witness.
Michael Wortham, Minister to Young Adults at Ebenezer, said “It’s sad that it seems to take these kinds of events to really bring people together. We’ve got to move forward in love and commitment to the dignity of all people.” As partners through the New Baptist Covenant, Ebenezer and Park Avenue have historically worked together on children’s literacy efforts, but have more recently collaborated on issues highlighting racial justice, poverty and violence. Both congregations are members of Outcry, an Atlanta based network of faith leaders committed to ending gun violence in the city.
Pastor Trey Lyon of Park Avenue reacted viscerally to the reading of the victims names. “Each ring of the bell is supposed to be a prayer, but I couldn’t help but hear it as a gunshot. The constant theme of the night was ‘We are one’. One in our grief, one in our love, one in our hope.” The congregations joined The Temple of Atlanta, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Vision Cathedral, Georgia Equality, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and several others. Setting the tone for the evening, Pastor Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer expressed the connection between the tragedies of Charleston, Orlando and other hate crimes. “If you burn the Koran in the morning you will burn a cross on my lawn at night, and if you burn a cross, you will paint a swastika on a Jewish Temple and if you despise Jews its not to difficult to demonize gays. And so we stand together. We stand together.”