A pastoral letter to the congregation of the Cathedral of St. Luke in Orlando, Diocese of Central Florida, describes the pastoral care the Cathedral is providing to the victims of the mass shooting at The Pulse last Sunday.
Dear Cathedral Family,
Our hearts break for the victims, and their families and friends, of the horrific shooting that targeted the LGBT community in Orlando this weekend. We grieve with our city, and for our city.
Since early Sunday morning our Cathedral clergy and staff have been actively serving those affected by this violence. Before our 8am service had even begun, Deacon Nancy Oliver was on her way to Orlando Regional Medical Center and the Hampton Inn, to talk and pray with victims’ families, and represent the loving presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of the confusion and chaos that evil always brings.
Both Deacon Michael Matheny and Deacon Nancy Oliver joined Bishop Greg Brewer Monday night at the ecumenical vigil sponsored by Saint James Catholic Cathedral. Currently we pray aloud each victim’s name during daily Eucharist.
We hope by now you have seen the Cathedral’s statement of love, solidarity, and support, posted on our website and social media outlets earlier this week:
We at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida, abhor the hateful violence perpetrated against LGBT persons in our city this past Sunday morning. We stand with the families and friends of the victims, and with the LGBT and Latin communities, praying for them daily, and for the healing of our city.
We want you to know how much we care about every person affected by this terrible event, that we are weeping with them, and that we desire to be a part of the healing journey that surely awaits us all in the coming months.
Our Cathedral will serve in the upcoming days in two specific ways. A funeral for one of the victims, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, takes place at the Cathedral on Saturday morning at 11am. A vigil, “Prayers for Healing and Hope,” including a message from Bishop Brewer, begins Sunday evening at 6pm. Members of the Orlando Gay Chorus, the Cathedral Choir, and other local choirs are lending their voices and talents to this solemn time of prayer, scripture reading, and singing. Following the service, many of us will join a city-wide candlelight vigil at Lake Eola. Please make every effort to join us with your prayers and presence for these important expressions of worship and solidarity.
We also want you to know that, as a clergy team, we are here for you, care about you, and are praying for you. We love you and are available to talk and pray with you as you process this awful event. In moments like this the darkness of sin seems overwhelming. We encourage you to be honest in your conversations with God, and lift your sadness, doubts, anger, confusion, and grief to the One who knows you and loves you.
As the horror of this evil event settles in, hold on to the hope that Jesus Christ brings. Remember that it was from his own island prison on Patmos that Saint John reminded us that suffering and sorrow are not the end of the story:
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
… “See, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:3-5a
We hope you will continue to pray, and reach out to those affected by this violence, that they may know the hope of Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love,
The Cathedral Clergy
Acting Dean Reggie Kidd
Canon Josh Bales
Canon Justin Holcomb
Deacon Michael Matheny
Deacon Nancy Oliver
Deacon Carolyn Peterson
Candlelight Vigil for Orlando this Sunday June 19 @ 6 pm. Members of Orlando Gay Chorus with Episcopal choirs. Bishop Brewer speaking. Come!
— Benjamin Lane (@CCSLmusic) June 16, 2016
About Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.