Beloved in the Lord,

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24 – 26

We are blessed to live in a country that provides freedom of religion. We gather as communities to worship. We pray in our homes. We erect large houses of worship for people to be spiritually nurtured. However, we must be mindful that there are yet countless people throughout the world that cannot worship for fear of their lives. While we recognize there are significant differences in our backgrounds, we certainly do not wish harm to befall anyone who does not conform to our religious practices.

The terrible tragedy that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 27 is a senseless and violent act of hate. Eleven people lost their lives. Why? Because someone did not agree with their beliefs. This type of behavior cannot and should not be tolerated. Even in our differences we must preach and teach compassion, tolerance and peace.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by this brutal attack. The entire congregation and community have been devastated by this, the worst massacre of Jewish people in our country. We must continue to pray for peace in our world and in all places of worship, and we must be vigilant in our awareness of our surroundings so that future acts of violence will be deterred.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP