(See Hyde Park’s pastoral statement at the end of this message)
Many congregations gathered on Monday at The Portico for the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality‘s Justice Ministry Celebration. We were literally celebrating HOPE and the ways in which our collective voice and advocacy efforts have enacted change. There was a lot to celebrate. HOPE has made substantial progress with affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and access to mental health services.
Again, I was overjoyed to be celebrating HOPE.
CELEBRATING HOPE, LOSING HOPE: The next evening was a different story. I wasn’t celebrating hope, I was losing it. The following is what I scribbled as I watched the tragedy unfold on multiple news outlets.
History repeats: Innocent blood, moments of silence, thoughts and prayers. Empty words. Empty words offered by owned, impotent politicians unwilling to take action on common sense gun laws because their fidelity and faithfulness is to their own power and not to God, children, and country. Many more children are going to die. Evil is winning.
When I wrote those words, I was overcome with evil. Not only by the evil of an individual, but also by the systemic sin embedded in our country that enables this to happen over and over again. And to be clear, I still think the words are true. One caveat. Evil can be overcome. I remember Romans 12:21 which proclaims: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As difficult as it is, we must cling to hope. I offer one of my favorite scriptures when you are losing hope. With some irony, it is a father trying to save his kid and he comes to Jesus: Mark 9:24.
Friends, don’t give up, there’s too much riding on us not. I encourage you to memorize one or both of the scriptures. Proclaim them when you feel anger or as sense of hopelessness. And like you’ll see in the pastoral statement below, I’d recommend you explore Moms Demand Action.
We can overcome evil with good. Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief.
You are loved.
Upcoming Opportunities:

PASTORAL STATEMENT: Pastors Sally, Vicki, Justin and I join the grief and anger in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. We lift up this prayer offered by our Bishop Ken Carter. We also lift up the work of an organization called Moms Demand Action, whom we have hosted for events at our downtown Portico location. In addition to considering your support of their organization, you may wish to observe National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend on June 3-5.
NOTE: I had hoped to share more about Mindi (Cafe manager) and her daughter moving into her new house; as well as the ways in which God is working in her life through our community. The tragedy shifted that plan. Stay tuned.

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