Lord, we are shocked and heart-broken over this senseless tragedy in Orlando, Florida. Our hearts ache over the mind-boggling scale of this loss, the largest mass shooting in our nation’s history. We cannot believe this even happened in a place so many of us have visited for vacations or conferences.

We have focused our prayers on each and every name of those killed, and we are struck by the kinds of names on the list. Our hearts are heavy for all those of immigrant Hispanic descent and Puerto-Rican-American descent who have been affected by this. We pray for the extended families facing the results of this violence ripping at their souls and tearing at the fabric of their families. Lord, give us grace to continue as people of faith to “welcome the stranger,” and to not condemn all immigrants for the actions of one, any more than we would like to be condemned for the actions of just one more like us.

We pray for those who identify with the LGBTQ community feeling this loss so acutely. The location targeted was a gathering place for them. We condemn all such forms of violence, and this most dramatic and hateful form of it. Yes, Lord, we disagree with this community about things like marriage and ordination, but our disagreement does not make them our enemies. We pray that you would comfort the grieving and restore wholeness in ways only possible through Jesus Christ. May they feel welcome and safe in your churches, God, and may we Christians help them feel loved and safe.

Lord, it is hard to know what to say with a tragedy of such immense magnitude. We do not know all the information we would like to at this point, so we have trouble knowing how to pray. We do know this: lives have been senselessly lost, but you are still on the throne.

We ask your Holy Spirit to help us to pray to you so that your will would be done and people would be made new in Jesus Christ. We are mindful of Joseph in Genesis 50, who was ostracized, abducted, and sold into slavery by his own brothers. Later on, when reflecting of the evil intent of his attackers, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” It is quite impossible for any of us right now to imagine how an act so evil might bring about any good at all. But you are the Author of redemption and we pray that you will bring your infinite grace. For now, we pray you would somehow move in the midst of it all, as only you can, even if we do not understand it—for we believe in you, Lord Almighty. Amen.

-Wayne Schmidt

General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church


The names of those lost in the Orlando Shooting:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., Stanley Almodovar III, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Luis S. Vielma, Kimberly Morris, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Darryl Roman Burt II, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Amanda Alvear, Martin Benitez Torres, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, Enrique L. Rios, Jr., Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Cory James Connell, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis Daniel Conde, Shane Evan Tomlinson, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Jerald Arthur Wright, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Brenda Lee Marquez McCoo, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Frank Hernandez, Paul Terrell Henry, Antonio Davon Brown, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, and Akyra Monet Murray.

May their families find the peace that passes understanding through in you, even in this loss.