Orlando shooting brings together Kingman religious leaders for Sunday service

A group photo of the Kingman United Pastoral Association. From left, Imam Umar Farooq Mahmood, Masjid Ibrahim Mosque; Father Leonard Walker, priest for Divine Savior Independent Catholic Community; Rabbi Mindie Snyder, Temple in the Pines Synagogue in Flagstaff; Father Phil Shaw, Trinity Episcopal Church; Pastor Ray Christenson, Grace Lutheran Church; and Kingman Arizona Stake President Vance Miller, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A group photo of the Kingman United Pastoral Association. From left, Imam Umar Farooq Mahmood, Masjid Ibrahim Mosque; Father Leonard Walker, priest for Divine Savior Independent Catholic Community; Rabbi Mindie Snyder, Temple in the Pines Synagogue in Flagstaff; Father Phil Shaw, Trinity Episcopal Church; Pastor Ray Christenson, Grace Lutheran Church; and Kingman Arizona Stake President Vance Miller, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If You Go

The memorial service to honor the victims of the shooting in the Orlando nightclub will be held at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 423 E. Sprint St., at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

KINGMAN - Tragedy will lead to harmony this Sunday as all are welcome to remember in a memorial service those killed in the Orlando shooting.

Father Leonard Walker, of the Divine Savior Independent Catholic Church, met with other religious leaders from the Kingman United Pastoral Association Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming Ecumenical Forum that will take place on Aug. 14.

"I asked if we wanted to do some kind of memorial service knowing most churches would do something during their Sunday services," he said. "We discussed doing some sort of joint service."

The idea went forward.

The vigil is sponsored by Trinity Episcopal and Divine Savior Independent Catholic, but people of all faiths and beliefs are invited. Food and drinks will be provided. "Pulse," a music video to remember the victims, will be played.

"I'm openly gay. This is something that has deeply affected me," Walker said. "There's no other opportunity for LGBT to gather. There's no way to express our grief.

"There's many other people who understandably see this as a terrorist attack, which it is. This isn't just for LGBT but for all human beings. This is a way to express being one with Orlando."

Terror, Hate or Both?

The Orlando shooting has been called both terrorist attack and hate crime. KUPA members were polled on if they considered it a hate crime, terrorist attack, or both if they have they addressed their congregations, and their stances on religious fanaticism.

Imam Umar Mohammed Mahmood of Masjid Ibrahim Mosque was not available for comment. This is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which goes until July 5. He and many other Muslims are fasting during the day, leaving them mentally and physically drained during the warm summer days.

He has been in contact with the Miner and is currently writing a letter regarding the Orlando attack and reactions of local Muslims. Other leaders did respond.

Father Leonard Walker:

"Clearly the Orlando massacre was both a hate crime and a terrorist attack, as President Obama rightly called it.

"As a priest and a religious leader I am deeply offended by anyone who uses religion as a mask for hate. This horrendous act is not the result of Islam. This man was not a true Muslim. He was an enemy of God.

"As an out gay man, I am deeply moved and in mourning for my brothers and sisters as once again false religion has been used to kill LBGT people. There is a long line of martyrs who have been killed for whom God has made us love.

"Paraphrasing the holy word of God in James 2:14-26, 'prayer without deeds is dead.' We must not only pray, but we must continue to work to ban assault weapons and we must continue to work in uncovering the mask of false religion and condemning any Muslim, Jew, or Christian who preaches death to anyone, since each person is a child of God. We must continue to build bridges between peoples no matter the faith, ethnicity or origin. Love must trump hate."

Father Phil Shaw of Trinity Episcopal Church:

"That was the topic of my sermon on Sunday. The killing is a hate crime. It was not about terrorism. It was about a crazed, homophobic individual who decided to kill a vast number of innocent people. This was allowed to happen because our Congress is a subsidiary of the NRA, they refuse to accept the fact that these things continue to happen because assault weapons are available to people with a few hundred bucks within a few minutes.

"This was no more indicative of Muslims than Tim McVeigh was indicative of white Christians. This was an act of a disturbed individual that disturbs Muslims of good faith all over the world. This was not about Islam. Our Muslim brothers and sisters will take heat for this for no justifiable reason whatsoever."

Vance Miller, Kingman Arizona Stake President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"(Hate vs. terror) is not something we really talk about. I certainly don't reach out and express my views.

"Individuals are allowed to make up their own minds. I don't know what it is. You can say it's a hate crime. I feel it's sad for the families. Unfortunately, I think this is going to keep happening. We're an agent unto ourselves.

"We are individuals and need to be compassionate towards everybody. We're here to learn to allow our spirits to guide our bodies. It's up to me to decide what to do. My freedom stops when I try to impose it on someone else."

Pastor Ray Christenson from Grace Lutheran Church:

"The next time we're going to be talking, we will be including Orlando in the prayers. The Lutheran church does not delineate between people. We're all human beings and need to be respectful of each other. We're all children of God and we stand in solidarity."

Rabbi Mindie Snyder, Temple in the Pines Synagogue:

"What do I call what happened in Orlando? Murder.

"I would also add the Commandment (Mitzvah), 'You shall not hate your neighbor in your heart.' The 'heart' in the ancient Jewish tradition refers to the seat of understanding. In an earlier e-mail to my congregation following the shooting at UCLA, I noted that none of my friends from the Christian and Muslim traditions, as well as others, condoned acts of violence perpetrated against another. We crave a safe world, one that thrives in peace.

"According to a Midrash, there is an understanding that the Holy One of Blessing contracted God's self in order to make room for Creation. If God can make room for others, why can't we?"

For more information on the vigil, contact Father Leonard Walker at 602-432-7808 or Deacon Ben Rodenbeck at 928-263-9878.