Letter from Dean of American Cathedral in Paris

November 14, 2015



So many friends and colleagues have written in the last 18 hours expressing support, promising their prayers, and asking what they could do.  I cannot tell you how incredibly important this has been to all of us at the American Cathedral.  It is a very fearful time, and we are still bewildered and unsure.  Knowing we have prayers coming from around the world,  that we have a cloud of witnesses, and that we are so inextricably connected in the Body of Christ makes all the difference.


What can you do?  First of all, I ask your prayers:

–          for the victims, those who died and those wounded

–          for their families

–          for all those who have helped and are helping

–          for all who protect us

–          for the city of Paris, and especially our Cathedral community

–          for all those whose anger, fear and hatred lead them to commit such acts

–          for hope, for light in the darkness, and for peace

Secondly, I urge you to give some serious thought to next steps.  Your expressions of support are strong and genuine – but where do they go?  We have all held each other up before – after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, for instance, and after 9/11 – and shared a strong sense of unity.  I’m not sure where I am going with this; I only mean that our prayers must lead us to action.  Here in France I suspect there will be very, very strong anti-Muslim sentiment, and one thing we must do is stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and foster conversation and understanding.  I think we also need to work harder to care for the flood of refugees fleeing terror in their own countries – work for immediate care and for political solutions.  You will need to find your own mission in the US, but I know that it must involve continued dedication and commitment to making justice and making peace, and being a light in the darkness.


Thank you again, my brothers and sisters.


Lucinda Laird

Dean, The American Cathedral in Paris

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  1. Tom Momberg

    Thank you, Lucinda. I will read your letter to the congregation I serve, inviting them to join me in seeking ways to put hands and feet on our prayers.

  2. Randall Stewart

    We should not attempt to foster understanding with those who reject liberal values. We should only endeavor to change their minds or defeat their ideology. Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

    • Whit Johnstone

      I’d like to split the difference on this one. Yes, ISIS needs to be put back where it came from, both by military action in the Middle East and criminal investigations in the West. But that is not the same thing as burning a mosque or beating up brown people as revenge for terror attacks carried out by other brown people.

  3. Catherine Cummings

    Have faith. Good will always triumph over evil. It may take awhile, but it will happen. Remember WWII When all of Europe was enslaved. Remember when the Berlin Wall fell. Pray for peace and goodwill.

    • Leslie Marshall

      Yes. Jesus triumphed over evil –thank you Jesus.

  4. Courtney & Brian Good

    We love you, Lucinda. Your light is shining bright.

  5. Patti Noel

    Thank you for sharing your insight and that you are somewhat safe where you are and prayerfully you stay that way. You shared your concerns for the Muslim community therefore an anti-muslem action and for good reason. There are many who are just as much a victim as the rest of the world, just look at the long line of refugees trying to find safety. Extremism is everywhere not just among Muslim we have them among Christian too. Hate is the motivtor not ones religion believes as the would like the world to believe

  6. Rev. Mark Hatch

    Would it be possible, please, to post some formal denunciations, reactions, and reflections from non-violent, non-fundamentalist, and non-jihadist Muslim leaders around the world, in the US, and in Europe? I am being continually and now even more directly asked for this/these and I find them quite hard to come by. Some other voices of what Dean Laird calls our Muslin brothers and sisters is utterly essential and necessary in this moment. I would deeply appreciate any direction towards such public statements, proclamations and views, thank you.

      • JC Fisher

        Thank you, John. For some of us (inc Yours Truly), Googling something like this IS indeed, “too hard”.

        God (in Arabic “Allah”) bring us peace (in Arabic “salaam”).*

        * Need to be explicit about translations, lest I get caught in Yet Another “The Christian God is not Allah!” diatribe… }-/

    • Leslie Marshall

      I think they are afraid to speak up, because they don’t want retaliation from terrorists.

    • Prof Christopher Seitz

      The issue isn’t what word is used in Arabic to denote ‘the God’ (allah), comparable to ‘the God’ (ha’el) in Hebrew.

      At issue is what God jihandists mean to refer to when, during a massacre, they proclaim ‘Allah we’aqbar’.

      Etymology and translation do not tell us the main theological issues at stake.

    • David Streever

      I have seen a number of reports of Muslims speaking out against terrorism; probably well into the hundreds if not thousands. I remember earlier this year one news outlet did a ’round-up’ which was astonishing in the sheer size and scope.

      This is the first piece I could find quickly on a busy day:

      It’s rather political, so apologies for that, but 46 examples seems pretty solid. It is amazing just how few outlets are covering any of this, especially outlets that claim that no one is denouncing the acts/actors.

  7. Alice Tiano


    Thank you for your beautiful letter, Lucinda, Here in Louisville, we need to build ever deeper relationships with our Muslim neighbors, do serious work on the two centuries old racism in our city, and provide for more refugees. For the refugees, we need to write our members of Congress to increase the paltry number (10,000) of Syrian refugees this country will accept – too little too late.
    I am sorry that you missed our visit from Daniel and Damaris. They have such beautiful hearts and do so much.

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