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Living out faith: Responding with love to violence

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Graphic of Jesus washing feet with John 13:34

John 13:34 graphic from Adobe Stock.

"I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other." John 13:34, CEB 

In the Upper Room, Jesus gathered the disciples, washed their feet, broke bread with them, and left them with the commandment to love each other. 

Two police officers and a paramedic were shot and killed in Burnsville, Minnesota, on Feb 18, 2024. The man who shot them is also dead. The shooter was barricaded inside a home with seven children ranging in age from 2 to 15.

The United Methodist Church responded in a week of tributes for the fallen first responders.

Bishop Lanette Plambeck, resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church, shared this message: 

Dear Beloved Community of The Minnesota United Methodist Church, 

I write with a heavy heart and profound sorrow following the news of the tragic loss of two police officers and one firefighter/paramedic who were responding to a call of distress in Burnsville earlier today. Join me in prayer for families, friends, and colleagues dealing with this unimaginable grief. Pray also for a third officer who is recovering from injuries and for those who were involved in the crisis that preceded the call for emergency assistance. 

As this call has been reported as a crisis of domestic violence, I am including the link for the 
National Domestic Violence Hotline for those in need. Also, there are times when call volume is high; know that you can reach out for local resources, and I'm here for you, as well.

I dream for and work toward a day when all violence will end, and beloved community will be realized. 

With deepest sympathy and heartfelt prayers,

Bishop Lanette

United Methodist congregations also responded. Christa Meland, director of communications for the Minnesota Conference of The United Methodist Church, reported that the day after the shooting, Grace UMC, Spirit of Truth Church (which meets in Grace's building), and River Hills UMC co-hosted a Service of Lament and Healing for the community. Members of Glendale UMC in Savage, MN, made care packages for the Savage Police and Fire Departments to share with their families. Read more.

Last summer, Bishop Lanette Plambeck released a pastoral letter to Dakotas United Methodists in response to the shooting that killed twoone police officer and a suspect, and critically injured three others—two police officers and a civilian, in Fargo, North Dakota,

These recent events cause us to pause and ponder Jesus' commandment in John 13. Where is the love? How are we living our lives as Christians, commanded to love each other? How should we respond?

UM Revised Social Principles graphic

Screenshot from document by The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church.

Ways to respond.

Pray— Resources for worship and prayer in the face of violence: Tragedy calls out the deepest prayers we ever pray. We pray for the families who lost loved ones in the senseless shootings. We pray for the victims of domestic violence. 

Educate yourself about gun violence in the United States. What are gun violence statistics? Read about ways United Methodists can take a stand against gun violence here. The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church contains our official position on gun violence. Resolution 3428 in the 2016 Book of Resolutions, "Our Call to End Gun Violence," calls upon us to do several things. Read the resolution in its entirety here.

Learn more about family violence and abuse in all its forms. As United Methodists, we are working to eradicate such violence. When guns are present in domestic violence, the chance of homicide increases dramatically. Learn the statistics and how you can make a difference.

Read the proposed Revised Social PrinciplesThe proposed Revised Social Principles reflect the United Methodist response to today's most pressing social issues. This document will be considered at General Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Read the document. Review the FAQ’s. Attend the GC webinar on April 4 or 7 with the Dakotas Conference delegation.


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