Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, issued this statement on the Oct. 3 shootings of seven law enforcement officers in Florence County:
Again this week, gun violence erupted in South Carolina – this time taking the life of one law enforcement officer and wounding six others in Florence County.
South Carolina United Methodists share in the anguish that has Florence County in its grip in the wake of this atrocity.
We pray for the loved ones of slain Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway, who dedicated his life to public service – both as a police officer for more than 30 years and as a community volunteer with a passion for helping children, especially those from disadvantaged homes.
We pray for those officers still recovering from bullet wounds, for their families and loved ones. We pray for all law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.
And we pray for the people of Florence County as they grapple with this grievous wound that has been inflicted on their community.
As a people of faith committed to social justice and opposed to gun violence, we pray for the courage to put our beliefs into action, taking advantage of every opportunity to promote hope in a society too often disheartened by brutality.
At all times – but especially in a moment like this – the church must be a place of healing and renewal for a community. In the words of John the Evangelist, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1 John 3:18 NRSV).
The congregation of Pisgah United Methodist Church – which worships barely a half-mile from the neighborhood where the shooting took place – will gather Sunday afternoon for “A Blessing of the Land” vigil. They have invited friends, family and neighbors, along with law enforcement officers and others in public service as guests of honor.
Wherever you find yourself at 3 p.m. Sunday, I invite you to join them in their prayers for peace and healing in their community.
As we pray and trust in God’s grace, let us also walk in faith as we commit to the ongoing work of peacemaking in our own communities.
Grace and peace,
L. Jonathan Holston