Dear Friends,

It has been a heartbreaking week. The aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have left me with a tremendous mix of emotions. I have been angry. I have been sad. I have been frustrated. I have been perplexed. I have been depressed. I have been determined to do something. Sometimes I am feeling all these things at the same time!

I find myself mourning with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. I worry about those who were present during these moments of trauma and terror, knowing that they will be unpacking the effects of this for years. I am profoundly thankful for the first responders who once again put themselves in the line of fire to prevent even more unspeakable loss. While much has been said about the emptiness of “thoughts and prayers,” I can say that there hasn’t been a day where I have not thought about or lifted in prayer all the people touched by these tragic events.

I am asking you to be moved to respond. Don’t let the overwhelming feelings of this week paralyze you. For those who feel compelled to call their legislators to push for changes to laws, please make those calls. For those who feel compelled to make donations to groups in those cities providing care in the aftermath, please give generously. For those who see this as a call to get involved more locally – may you find an organization that is committed to reducing gun violence and lend your voice. Just please don’t be paralyzed or cynical, believing nothing can be done to change our world.

Here at Royal Oak First, we take these moments to double down on our efforts to make Christ’s love real in our local community. We will keep feeding and caring for the hungry and homeless. We will keep making sure kids go to school with the supplies they need to be successful. We will make sure the sick and shut-in are visited. We will be the hands and feet of Jesus right here, trusting that God will use our acts of kindness, mercy, and justice to transform the world.

Let us pledge once again to join Jesus in this movement to peace and justice.

Grace and Peace

Pastor Jeff's Signature

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