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PC(USA) Leaders Issue Statement on Anti-gay Murder in Wyoming
PCUSA NEWS <email@example.com>
16 Oct 1998 20:06:52
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98340 PC(USA) Leaders Issue Statement
on Anti-gay Murder in Wyoming
by Jerry L. Van Marter
LOUISVILLE, Ky.-Three top officials of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
issued a statement Oct. 16 on the recent brutal murder of Matthew Shepard
in an anti-gay attack in Laramie, Wyo. on Oct. 12.
The statement was issued by General Assembly moderator the Rev. Douglas
W. Oldenburg, General Assembly stated clerk the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick
and General Assembly Council executive director John Detterick.
The full text of their statement:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
All of us must be burdened with heavy hearts over the senseless and tragic
death of Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student tied to a rural fence
and beaten to death, ostensibly because of his sexual orientation. Our
hearts go out to Matthew's family. We are shocked by the tender ages of
the perpetrators. Something is terribly wrong when the message these four
young adults have evidently assimilated is that persons of Matthew's sexual
orientation are deserving of less than basic human respect.
Our beloved denomination has discussed issues revolving around sexual
orientation for some twenty years now. Since the 1978 General Assembly, we
have never wavered from advocating the protection of basic human rights for
all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Our most recent
Assembly, the 210th, called upon Presbyterians, governments and community
organizations to seek responses that will help our society more effectively
identify and deal with root causes of such "hate crimes."
What happened to Matthew Shepherd is a tragedy, and we must honor his
family's plea not to politicize his death. However, surely it must move us
to strive to develop ways of responding that will prevent such tragedies
from destroying the lives of other young people in other communities of
We call upon each of you to be in prayer:
prayer for Matthew's family as they bury their hopes and dreams for
prayer for the young people who have taken the life of another,
prayer for the families of the four young persons,
prayer for all who live in fear of violence and discrimination, and
prayer for our church that God will use us to be an instrument of
reconciliation in a divided world.
We also call upon our church to witness to the love and justice of Christ
for all people and to be united in our commitment to human rights and
respect for all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation. Our
nation needs the people of this great denomination to demonstrate how love
might replace hate and how understanding and communication might replace
prejudice and isolation.
The peace of Christ be with you all!
Yours in Christ,
Douglas Oldenburg Clifton Kirkpatrick
Moderator, 210th General Assembly Stated Clerk of the General
Executive Director, General Assembly Council
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