In her first report to the Board of General Ministries at its meeting on Friday, June 17 in Green Lake, WI, American Baptist Churches of the USA (ABCUSA) Interim General Secretary Dr. Susan Gillies addressed the recent shooting in Orlando, FL, saying:
“We offer our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims of the horrible tragedy in Orlando. We extend love to those of our family directly affected. We grieve with our American Baptist brothers and sisters who are part of the LGBTQ community. My message to them is, never mistake our debates and disagreements with the depth of our love for you as part of our family. To the rest of the ABC family my message is, even in the midst of profound disagreement, let us love as Christ loved.
American Baptists agree on many things and we have recently lifted up seven Mission Table priorities on which to work together. One of these includes dealing with the violence in our society which needs our attention now more than ever. We have an active Task Force at work on Race and Race-Based Violence. The American Baptist Home Mission Societies will take a leadership role in addressing wider issues of violence. I encourage all American Baptists to support this work.
American Baptists are participating in conversations with Muslim faith leaders. Our General Secretary Emeritus, Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, leads in these efforts. We will continue these efforts for understanding and peace in a spirit of love.
Historically, American Baptists believing deeply in individual responsibility and local church autonomy, have grappled with issues of our personal and public witness. We differ on biblical understanding. We are diverse in race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity and we now learn from recent research, we are evenly divided Republican and Democrat. But through it all we’ve learned (and continue to learn) to trust in Jesus. American Baptists believe in and are guided by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are driven in our proclamation and practice by the good news of God’s unceasing love.
Our diversity is a gift of God. We are called to bear witness to the world that living well in diversity can be done. We are who we are. We follow Jesus. For every time we falter, we ask forgiveness. For every time we succeed, we give thanks.”