Following the tragic mass shooting June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Cooperative Baptists are continuing to pray for and show acts of support to the victims, their families and the LGBTQ community.
“As we continue to hear the names and hear the stories of those lost and injured in the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we bear witness to the loss of so many beautiful lives — an accountant, a pharmacy technician, a dancer, a telemarketer, a bouncer, a barista, a brand manager,” said Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “They are brothers, sisters, spouses, sons and daughters.
“We grieve with the families of the victims. We grieve with the city of Orlando, and we grieve with the LGBTQ community. I pray that love can overcome this act of hate, and that we as Christians mourn the loss of each and every life that was cut short by the actions that took place on Sunday morning. We lift up these lives lost, and do so through both prayer and acts of support.”
CBF-endorsed chaplain Ramona Reynolds-Netto, who serves as director of pastoral education services at Florida Hospital in Orlando, has been providing pastoral care to more than a dozen victims with non-life threatening injuries as well as their families and loved ones.
Reynolds-Netto along with other health care chaplains in Orlando are part of a team that is coordinating pastoral care with police officers who are making death notifications to families who have lost loved ones.
Gerry Hutchinson, CBF’s endorser for chaplains and pastoral counselors, requested prayers for Reynolds-Netto in the aftermath of this horrific shooting.
“When I spoke with Ramona Monday morning, she expressed gratitude and asked that we continue to pray for those who are providing spiritual care during this time.”
Church on the Drive, a CBF partner church in Orlando led by senior pastor Jack Mercer, is serving law enforcement who are working around the clock at the Pulse nightclub. With guidance from Orlando City Council Commissioner and Church on the Drive member Robert Stuart, the congregation is collecting donations of individually wrapped snacks, Gatorade, wet wipes and other supplies to put together and distribute care packs for the police officers who are unable to take regular breaks. Crystal Holic, minister of community outreach, said Church on the Drive also has plans to provide care packs to hospital staff at Orlando Regional Medical Center, where many of the shooting victims have been treated.
Mercer expressed the weight of the unimaginable circumstances in his city as he seeks ways to engage in support where it is most needed. He also expressed his great gratitude for people across the country and across the Fellowship as they offer an outpouring of prayer and support.
“We know that CBF wants to be the presence of Christ to our city, and we are so grateful for that,” Mercer said. “The best way for Cooperative Baptists to pray for Church on the Drive is to pray that we will see this as an opportunity to minister to all in our community — no exceptions.”
Church on the Drive plans to host funerals for any family of a victim with the need.
“We want as a church to demonstrate our love for all persons,” Mercer said. “For anyone who needs a church to perform services for anyone lost in this tragedy, we have made the decision that our church will be open.”