Prayer services kicked off soon after word spread about the latest rounds of fatal shootings involving both police and civilians in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas. However, church leaders in various U.S. geographies share that they know Christians are seeking a more robust sort of religious counseling, because they do not agree violence is the answer.
"How we need God. How our nation and our world need God. I know you will join me in praying for God to cause light to shine in the darkness," stated John Ortberg, senior pastor at California-based Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in an email to his 4,000-member congregation.
Ortberg stated the original plans for this weekend were to kick off the church's "Summer at the Movies" series. "It's a great series, and we're still looking forward to it. However, in light of the tragic events of this last week, we decided to postpone that series launch until next weekend," he announced.
Instead, Ortberg said congregants are going to assemble as a community to worship God and pray for the nation. "Events of this past week-especially on top of the recent shootings in Orlando and global acts of terror-can cause our hearts to reel," he admitted.
"We want to reflect together on how Jesus is the hope of our world. We want to ask for God's help; for God to bring healing, and offer ourselves and our lives for God's work."
Elsewhere, a moment of silence for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two men who died during police-involved shootings, kicked off the 46th annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration Thursday night at Light of the World Christian Church. Following the silence, WHTR reported the group discussed frustration in the African-American community about black men dying at the hands of police officers and what follows.
"Far too often, there's a shooting. There's a protest. There's no indictment. There's no justice. There's another shooting. There's a protest. There's no indictment. There's no justice," said Rev. Dr. David Hampton, pastor of Light of the World Church and deputy mayor for the city of Indianapolis.
In Rock Hill, S.C., York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said he had never seen "such cowardly acts against people wearing the uniform, the badge, who were out there protecting the rights of protesters."
"If anybody thinks that we are going to solve the racial problems that we have in this country with violence, and the mass murder of police, they are wrong," he said in The Herald.
Rev. Maurice Harden, pastor of New Mount Olivet AME Zion Church in Rock Hill, who is active in the Black Lives Matter movement, said pastors from across the nation held a conference call late Thursday and are meeting Friday about the escalating violence and racial tension. "I am appalled, sickened, at the level of violence we have seen the last three days. The level of fear, the level of violence, is at a critical mass," Harden said.
The killing of the two black men by police officers is "awful, unacceptable, and a tragedy," Harden said, and the country needs real police reform to weed out "rogue cops." However, killers who seek out vigilante justice "scar the Black Lives Matter Movement," he added. "Killing white police officers solves nothing and worsens the racial tension and divide in the country."
Harden said the solution is zero tolerance - on all sides. "Zero tolerance for rogue officers who have a complex, who shoot first, who are taking the lives of our young black men. And zero tolerance for anyone who would shoot police officers."
In Alabama, hundreds gathered Friday to address sadness mixed with outrage, reports AL. A message of unity was shown in Rainbow City, where approximately 300 people gathered for a prayer vigil for first responders and the black males who died. Pastors who spoke during the event called for a message of peace instead of violence. As participants danced to patriotic music and sung Christian songs, organizers said the chaos has brought people together.
"God does not waste suffering," said Pastor Eric Reaves of Harvestfield Church.