Houses of Worship Must Remind the World of Things We Vowed Not to Forget

Written by FASPE Seminary Fellows: Cornelia DaltonDeacon Andrew J. De Silva and Alissa Oleson

This past February marked the one-year anniversary of the Parkland school shootings. Noting how quickly the 24-hour news cycle changes yesterday’s priorities, one church chose art to remember the names of those killed in the Parkland massacre. “We wanted to make sure that we found a way to use our public space to memorialize and remember…” remarked Rev. Nathan Detering, senior minister at Unitarian Universalist Church in Sherborn, MA. Placing empty school desks outside the church with the first names of those tragically killed written on the backs, the church created a poignant memorial.

The primary responsibility of a house of worship in the face of tragedy is prayer for victims; for perpetrators; and for the culture that allowed this. A house of worship ought to be a voice of remembrance calling the faith community to spiritually unite in asking God for continued help in a given situation.

A house of worship also has the sacred responsibility to speak out against injustice. It is for this reason that Unitarian Universalist Church used their memorial as an opportunity to gather and reflect on the shooting. In the face of tragedy, we too can be inspired by the Church in Sherborn to encourage the difficult conversations about why it happened and what we as faith filled people are being called to do about it.

In stark contrast to a culture led by an ever-changing news cycle, houses of worship draw on timeless texts and ancient beliefs as their source for this responsibility. Thus, it seems that they hold a privileged place in our increasingly frenetic culture of reminding us of things that we promised not to forget and our responsibility as people of faith to be instruments of change in our world around us.

Read the original article in The Boston Globe.

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