While details are still unfolding, news outlets are reporting that at least 12 people were shot and killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and a dozen more wounded. Thousand Oaks is consistently on the FBI’s list of the safest communities in America. But sadly, no community is immune from the gun violence that takes nearly 100 American lives every single day and wounds hundreds more.
Long-time Christian minister to top government officials in Washington, DC, president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, and a spokesperson for Prayers & Action, Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, along with founder and executive director of The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, spokesperson for Prayers & Action and disaster psychologist, Dr. Jamie Aten, and pastor of New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jackson, Mississippi, Rev. Dr. Lorenzo T. Neal, released the following statement in response to reports of a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California.
STATEMENT FROM REV. DR ROB SCHENCK:
“The mass murder of another dozen Americans, including a long-time sheriff’s deputy, should be reason to couple our prayers for the victims and their families with concrete action. As people of faith, we most certainly turn to prayer as our first priority. Bringing the families of the loved ones who lost their lives so tragically and unexpectedly before our gracious God is important because we know that it is His peace and comfort that is needed at this time—not only for grieving families, but also for the survivors who witnessed the atrocity first-hand. But we must also combine those prayers with action. One way we can act upon our faith is by signing the Prayer Petition that many of our fellow Christian leaders have already done. I encourage you to read and sign this important statement that is derived from our faith and our desire to see the end of innocent lives taken by senseless gun violence… We cannot come to a place where Americans must be afraid to go about their normal lives. We cannot allow mass shootings to be the reason for us to be afraid to go about everyday tasks or enjoy fun and friends, and even worship. We must act to end this new and terrible ‘normal.’ This is time to match our prayers with our concrete actions, individually and together.”
STATEMENT FROM DR. JAMIE ATEN:
“I am deeply saddened that we are waking up to reports of yet another horrific mass shooting in this nation. My heart is with the victims and their loved ones today, especially those directly impacted and the emergency responders. As someone who has studied the psychology and impact of mass disasters, including mass shootings, I know that these individuals will need our support and comfort during this incredibly difficult time. This violence cannot continue to be the norm in our nation. While we are lifting up the victims and their loved ones in prayer to our Father who restores broken lives, we must couple those prayers with action to end this senselessness.”
STATEMENT FROM REV. DR. LORENZO T. NEAL:
“It wasn’t long ago that we grieved the loss of life at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, and today we mourn the loss of lives to a senseless act of gun violence at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks—where innocent young men and women were gathering for ‘college night.’ My heart is with the victims, their loved ones and all those impacted by today’s unfathomable events. As Christian pastors and laity, we must continue to pray AND act to end the epidemic of gun violence in this nation.”