Pastoral Message Regarding the Shootings in Atlanta

“Angry! Outraged! Upset! There are no words to reflect what is happening in our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Brutal attacks on the elderly and vulnerable are increasing. And these are not robberies. They are hate crimes and in broad daylight. The latest report from just one center monitoring AAPI crimes list over 3,700 incidents from March 2020 to February 2021.”

So begins the statement recently released by the Pacific Islander & Asian American (PAAM) Ministries of the United Church of Christ.

The shootings at the Asian spas in the Atlanta area again make visible the hate that proliferates our society. After the shootings, Rev. Heather Fosburgh and I reached out to our Korean Church – Open Community UCC in Decatur, GA, as well as several individual Asian Americans in our congregations. Although there was no indication that they knew the victims, they were definitely affected by the incident — and so should we all be. One person shared, “I’m very sad. Experiencing race in America is a difficult thing, and last week brought some pain to the surface that has been around long before I was born.”

What can we do in the face of hate and racism? Each of us has the ability to influence those around us: to challenge those who make racist comments, to stand in solidarity with those who are targets of hate; to listen to the stories; to remember and not forget. Circular Congregational UCC (Charleston, SC) has just begun their Theology and Ethics book group, studying Asian American Liberation Theology, with the reading of the names of those who were killed in the shootings at the Asian Spas. It was powerful!

Many of our churches lifted prayers in worship this past Sunday. Remembering makes a difference and encourages us forward, leading to change! We remember the eight killed on March 16 in Georgia, as well as the ten individuals recently killed by gun violence in Boulder, Colorado.

May we be strong and faithful witnesses to the love of God that causes us to defend the vulnerable and stop the hate.

Blessings, Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister