Friends around the world gathered for worship in their Meetings and homes at 7pm (est) on June 14th, coming together as a community to create a covering of love in response to the June 12th massacre at a nightclub in Orlando.
Orlando Meeting had sent out the invitation to worship just the day before; it spread quickly through SEYM and the Quaker world by email and social media. Many Meetings and Friends around the US and the world let us know they had either joined in this simultaneous Meeting for Worship, or had met at other times. Many sent their prayers & voiced their grief. The OMM Assistant Clerk writes:
“We experienced a heartfelt worship on Tuesday evening in response to the very recent loss and pain in Orlando. We were joined by Friends and neighbors including neighbors from our Park/Lake Highland neighborhood and from the immediate neighborhood of Pulse Nightclub as well as a Friend from Cambridge, MA Meeting who brought us a message of strength from those in the Boston area.
“A deep theme of community and our need for connection echoed among us. We also sensed the many Friends worshipping with us simultaneously throughout our Southeastern Yearly Meeting, our continent and our world including Friends in Canberra, Australia, London, England, Bellingham, WA, Vancouver, BC, New England Yearly Meeting, Pendle Hill, meetings throughout Pennsylvania and many more. We thank all who joined us in Spirit.
“Tonight, we had a sense that very quietly a great people has (been) gathered to turn from darkness to light and to share light with those who need hope, healing and strength.”
Orlando Friends are profoundly grateful to receive Friend’s messages and hear the outpouring of love, prayers, and concern not only for those at the center of this tragedy, but also for LGBTQ, Latino, and Muslim communities and for victims of gun violence everywhere.
Our continued response, as Spirit guides us, will unfold in the coming days and months. Today, for Friends’ encouragement, here are just a few of the messages and pictures received from across the nation:
“Miami Friends had a worship vigil, starting at 7:00 p.m. last night, sitting in a circle out front of our meeting house. We had a rainbow flag (from Scott Herrick’s world citizen days) and #LoveThyNeighbor small signs from FCNL.” —Warren Hoskins
Charleston Meeting: “Our hearts are heavy in Charleston. We are so sorry about tragedy. It’s been almost a year since the tragedy at Mother Emanuel here- we are still heartsick about it. We stand with Orlando & SEYM. In peace —-Carol, Charleston Friends
New England Yearly Meeting sent a prayer, in English & Spanish, which has been posted on their website since Monday, June 13: http://neym.org/news/prayer-response-orlando-shootings
Friends at Pendle Hill: “We are so grateful for your initiative to call Friends to worship together. Tonight from 7 to 8, there was a truly gathered meeting in the Barn at Pendle Hill, with staff, guests both Quaker and not, and Friends from nearby. A Persian Muslim friend of ours attended as well and shared her grief about the weekend’s events and her experience of Islam as a religion of love and service. There was sacred song and several lengthy and emotional messages. The whole tone was about love, sorrow, togetherness and healing.
Driving our friend home afterwards, we passed Providence Friends Meeting in Media, where the parking lot was jam packed.. …”
—Ann Jerome and John Margerum, Orlando Members & Pendle Hill Residents
Putney, Vermont Meeting: “….17 souls gathered at Putney Friends Meetinghouse as the late sun of early summer shined through the west windows along the wood stove wall. … There were few messages and much silence. I hope this and the broad net cast this night sustains you and all.” — Love, John
Bellingham (WA) Friends: “Several of us from Bellingham Friends came together this evening for a deeply gathered meeting in support, in grief, and in love. We send our love and light…and this picture.”
A Philadelphia Friend: “In Philadelphia, we had a big, inspiring Orlando solidarity rally and candlelight vigil next to City Hall on Monday night. My heart has been so full of feelings for our Orlando sisters and brothers that it has been hard to do my usual writing up of impressions (but I have done it).
“The rally site was just one block from our Quaker meetinghouse at Friends Center, so Friends were encouraged to go to it. I wasn’t at meeting on Sunday because (ironically) that was the day for Philadelphia’s annual Pride march and festival. I really needed to be around the local LGBTQ community at a horrible time like this.…Orlando, you are in our hearts” —–Jeff, Philadelphia
If you are led to contribute to efforts to bring help and healing, Orlando Friends can recommend these key organizations, who are leading efforts to assist victims and families:
The Center: The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center), in collaboration with its community partners, is offering crisis services to the families, friends and others affected by the mass shooting at Pulse Night Club in Orlando. They also facilitate donations to help Pulse Night Club Shooting victims and families. Monetary donations are being accepted via a GoFundMe page set up by the Center at https://www.gofundme.com/OrlandoUnited. All of the proceeds will go to victims and their families. website: www.thecenterorlando.org
For more about Quaker responses to the shooting, see:
- SEYM Executive Committee Responds to Orlando Tragedy
- Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL): Urgent—and Sustained—Action on Gun Violence
- Friends Journal: http://www.friendsjournal.org/quakers-respond-orlando-shooting/