Lutherans leaders, including ELCA head Bishop Mark Hanson, reacted today to the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a longtime member of their denomination. Tiller, who provided controversial late-term abortions, was shot and killed while ushering at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas.
Reformation’s Rev. Lowell Michelson and Rev. Kristin Neitzel said in a statement: “Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.
In the wake of this tragic event, our deepest concern is for the family of George Tiller. We ask the community to join us in prayer for them as they face the difficult days ahead. Our hearts ache with them. We also ask that the family’s privacy be respected.
Members of Reformation Lutheran Church have been deeply affected by this tragedy. To address their needs, we are assembling a team of crisis intervention specialists.”
Bishop Hanson said: “Dr. George Tiller and his wife, Jeanne, were gathering with the people of Reformation Lutheran Church to worship and to celebrate Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit to God’s people. It is unconscionable that Dr. Tiller, who was serving as an usher and welcoming people to worship, should be brutally murdered.
In the wake of his death we pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort his family and all who mourn. We pray for the courage to be peacemakers, rejecting violence as a means of resolving differences. We trust God’s promise that neither death nor life nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I express gratitude to God for the witness of the people of Reformation Lutheran Church and for the pastoral care being offered by Bishop Mansholt and pastors Michelson and Neitzel in this tragic circumstance.
Today we cry out `Lord have mercy!’ And we are so bold to proclaim and believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life.’ (John 11:25)”
(Photo by LA Times)