Faith communities came together this past weekend to reflect on the latest high-profile shootings involving police officers and black Americans, turning to pastors and other leaders for a message of hope.
"We can't have normal church today," said Douglass Haynes III Sunday morning at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, according to The New York Times.
Racial violence and the safety of police officers was on everyone's mind after three shooting incidents grabbed national headlines.
"The week had begun with the shooting deaths of two black men at the hands of police in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Then on Thursday night, a Black Lives Matter march in Dallas ended in a few terrifying moments when a sniper disrupted the peaceful protest by shooting 14 people, 12 of them police officers," the Los Angeles Times reported.
At Potter's House Church in Dallas, pastor T.D. Jakes brought together police officers and family members of the shooting members to mourn and search for solutions.
"These are trying times in our nation, but we believe that God can do the impossible," said associate pastor Onterio Green, according to the L.A. Times. A video recording of the Potter's House worship service is available on the church's website.
"From Minnesota to Louisiana and Texas, one nation under God examines its soul," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York, according to The New York Times. "Sadness and heaviness is especially present in our African-American and law enforcement communities."
The Rev. Tommie Gordon, pastor of a small storefront church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, focused on the power of prayer, the article noted.
"This is the time to get on your knees and pray," he said.
Responding to tragedy from the pulpit is difficult, especially when it involves a politicized issue like racially motivated violence, wrote David Gushee for Religion News Service.
"It is much safer to stay abstract. This is always true in ethics, and in politics. The more concrete and specific you are, the more people really know what you are saying, and can take sides against each other and against you," he noted.
Tensions arose at Potter's House in spite of the Rev. Jakes' efforts to balance the concerns of the police force and Black Lives Matter activists, the L.A. Times reported. Some congregants felt the service wasn't sensitive enough to the needs of the black community.
"They're missing the whole point of what's really going on," said James Ali-El, who attended the service.
Echoing the Rev. Gordon, Gushee said that the best way to smooth tension is to join together in prayer.
"One thing we know we can and must do is pray. It's not all we can do. But it is something we must do," he wrote.
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