Five local churches in the U.S. state of Florida show compassion in the wake of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting
June 23, 2016
Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church was the first local Adventist church in Orlando, Florida to offer free funeral services for victims of the Pulse night club mass shooting, which took place June 12, 2016. [Photo: Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church – Facebook]
Sunday, June 12, 2016 will be remembered as the day when the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history took place. This particular night, a lone gunman opened fire at Pulse, a popular night club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53.
Five days after the mass shooting, Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, traveled to Orlando to support and encourage the families of the Pulse night club mass shooting victims.
Jackson stood at one of the many memorials dedicated to the lives that were lost and gave a message of hope. “We grieve with the families of the 49 victims who died and the 53 families who still are hoping and praying for the full healing of those who were a part of that tragedy,” said Jackson.
Jackson went on to say, “We cannot make sense of the tragedies that takes place in our lives. But our hearts grieve with the LGBT community, with those who lost loved ones and with those who still struggling. We’re praying that the healing spirit of God will touch these lives and bless them.”
Shortly after the tragedy occurred, churches began reaching out to the victims’ families, offering help and compassion. The first to rise to the occasion was Forest Lake Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who announced on Facebook that it would allow families and friends of the victims to hold free funeral services, and live stream the service for those who could not be there in person.
Other churches then proceeded to do the same, such as, Forest City Spanish Church, Florida Hospital Church, Orlando Central Church and Altamonte Springs Church.
“We have reached out to the communities,” said Dan Schiffbauer, senior pastor of Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist church.
Schiffbauer then added, “I am working with the local conference here, to see if they can help with some of the grief counseling and crisis counseling; I have volunteered myself to that as well, so far they haven’t called on me, but I know they will soon.”
Aside from donating time, some members have also donated blood for victims who are still hospitalized.
From conducting services in Spanish at Forest City Spanish Church to opening doors to the public for prayer, quiet and refuge at the Orlando Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, these local churches have become a safe haven for many.
“This is an opportunity to show compassion,” said Walter Castro, lay ministries coordinator for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Florida. “We want to show our love and compassion, and show to the younger generation that we are here for people.”