Baptists joined other faith traditions urging prayer for the victims and their families on social media after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history early Sunday morning in Orlando.
Around 2 a.m., Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub, and armed with a handgun and assault rifle proceeded to kill 49 patrons before dying in a shootout with police. In speaking with negotiators before the final shootout, Mateen had declared an allegiance to ISIS.
It’s possible the death count could go up, as the Associated Press reported today that five of the 53 wounded were still in “grave condition.”
Though details were sketchy Sunday morning, by that afternoon it had become evident the horror of the situation, as reports detailed bodies on top of each other amid blood-soaked floors at the site of the shooting. For many victims’ families, confirmation of their deaths was not received until this morning.
Condolences and words of prayer came from throughout the country and world, including by Georgia Baptists.
“Praying for the people of Orlando FL and for the love of Jesus Christ to shine brightly in that city,” posted Derek Spain, executive pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, on Twitter. “Jesus gives LIFE, abundant & eternal.”
Jimmy Baughcum, Georgia Baptist Mission Board state missionary in Church Planting Ministries, tweeted, “As I sat and listened to the news coming out of Orlando, I’m reminded of how God loves and Satan steals, kills & destroys. Pray!”
The Twitter account for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board echoed the sentiments of others.
“Heartbroken for the people of Orlando,” wrote Billy Christol, associate pastor of youth at Burning Bush Baptist Church in Ringgold, on Facebook. “Praying for all involved in this horrible situation.”
Christol then quoted John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
On its Facebook page, First Baptist Church in Orlando advertised a service for the city tomorrow night, June 14, at 7 p.m, for all “to pray for the city, victims, families, and friends affected,” followed by the hashtags #LoveOrlando #PrayforOrlando and #thecityisbeautiful. Pastor David Uth addressed the tragedy at Pulse as well as the death the day before of singer Christina Grimmie, a professing Christian and contestant on “The Voice” who was shot while signing autographs for fans.
Gabriel Stovall, pastor of New Life Christian Church in Atlanta and BCM campus minister at Clayton State University, called for a focus on the criminal act and victims.
“Just stepping out of the pulpit and on my way out of commission for the next few days, and seeing the news of the worst mass shooting in U.S. History in #Orlando,” Stovall wrote. “I don’t care what your thoughts are regarding the lifestyles of homosexual people, this kind of treatment in the name of God, or ‘a god’ is absolutely reprehensible.”