From Pastor Juan…
We are stunned and devastated by the vicious disregard for human life that took place early yesterday at the Pulse Night Club here in Orlando. A lone shooter has taken the lives of 49 adults, and wounded dozens more, celebrating Latin night at this LGBT gathering place.
The club is located about ten miles south of the Florida Disciples of Christ Regional Church office.
We are not aware at this time of any direct relationship of the victims with any of our Disciples of Christ congregations in Florida.
The impact of this tragedy on our Disciples of Christ congregations has been as responders serving the victims and their families and the broader community. Many Florida Disciples work and serve as fire fighters, police officers, nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and others who are offering care in the aftermath of the attack.
Our clergy who serve as chaplains have been extending care including Rev. Dierdre Jarrett, full time chaplain with Orlando Health and member at Pershing Avenue Christian Church; Rev. Leslie McCarrick, pastor at Winter Park Christian Church and on-call chaplain with Orlando Health. Rev. Lori Lynn Wachter, Associate Regional Minister and Part-Time Chaplain with Orlando Health, will work a hospital staff support event on Tuesday.
Our congregations are working to assist in providing care:
Rev. Melinda Keenan Wood and the Pershing Avenue congregation have opened their church building as a staging area for NPR as it offers coverage to the nation and the world.
A family therapist, from our Iglesia Cristiana Hispana del Norte in Casselberry (where Rev. Hector Santiago is pastor) and her entire staff, have been present with the loved ones of the deceased and the injured, free of charge.
Rev. Dr. Betsy Goehrig, pastor of Blessing Christian Church in Tallahassee, is working as a Chaplain with the Salvation Army in Orlando.
Our pastor at Ocoee Christian Church, Rev. Margaret Marquis, as Police Chaplain, is ready to support the police officers of Ocoee as they take on added responsibilities.
Orlando Central Christian Church, where Rev. Tuck Norvell is pastor and Rev. Jenn Norvell serves, is creating care packets for first responders and caregivers, and is offering space for prayer and support.
First Christian Church of DeLand, where Rev. Linda Kemp-Baird is pastor, is opening their sanctuary for a service of prayer tonight for the whole community.
St. Nicholas Park Christian Church in Jacksonville, were David Fox serves as Interim Pastor, is leading a community walk tonight at 6:00pm, from Hamburger Mary’s to their sanctuary where there will be a service of prayer and support along with singing by the Jacksonville Men’s Chorus.
Our Regional Church Staff members (Rev. Rodriguez, Rev. Wachter and Christy Apodaca) have been in contact with our Orlando area pastors and offer themselves in ongoing support.
The Christian Church in Florida has a rich relationship with Latino/Latina Disciples. We join with our Hispanic congregations in feeling this shock and hurt.
Florida Disciples are making extra efforts to affirm our relationships with our neighbors who are Muslim and together we denounce this violence.
Florida Disciples of Christ are standing with our LGBT brothers and sisters whose hearts have been torn open by this assault. We hold you in our hearts and in our arms as you bathe the earth with your tears.
Our larger Disciples of Christ church immediately reached out to us including Caroline Hamilton of Week of Compassion, the College of Regional Ministers, Global Ministries, and Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, our General Minister and President:
Today I am especially in prayer for the Florida region and all those who may have loved ones directly impacted by the awful violence this morning in Orlando.
May God’s mercy and love be wrapped around each one and all those who seek to offer help and hope.
As this atrocity has taken place in our home … together we are striving to identify God in the midst of pain, confusion and loss. Together we lift up the saving and healing grace of the One who Created us all. We serve a loving God and who always beckons us to live in peace that all people may know what it is to be forgiven, loved and free.
We turn in prayer to God, our refuge and our strength, in this time of trouble. We stand in prayer together against hate and violence with hearts open to the power of the love and grace of God.
If you would like to offer donations, below is information from News Channel 6 for locations and contact information. If you are unable to donate blood, monetary donations will be welcome at all organizations to help restock their supplies.
Due to an overwhelming response from the public, all One Blood locations are at capacity. You can call 888-936-6283 to make appointments over the next several days due to the overwhelming response.
“There is a dramatic increase in the demand for O Negative blood by area hospitals and as a result OneBlood, the local blood center, is urging people with O Negative blood to please donate as soon as possible,” OneBlood said in a release.
OneBlood said there is an urgent need for O Negative, O Positive, and AB Plasma blood donors.
You can find the hours and locations of One Blood here or reach them by phone at 1-888-9Donate.
OneBlood listed the following locations as having the Big Red Bus in the Orlando area:
- Metro Church, Winter Springs
- St. Cloud Presbyterian
- Asbury Methodist, Maitland
- St. Lukes, Oviedo
- AMC Theater, Altamonte Mall
- 1st Unitarian, Robinson Street
- St. Stephen’ Longwood
- Deltona Lakes Baptist
- Apopka, 121 N. Park Avenue
- Walmart Mount Dora
- Waterford Lakes Town Center
- Winter Garden Village
- Old Navy near Sanford Mall