Stand Together as People of Faith

Istanbulbanner680Global Ministries Head Calls for Common Humanity in the wake of violence

By Linda Unger*

June 29, 2016 — Shortly after surviving yesterday’s bombing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Turkey, Thomas Kemper, leader of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, called on all people of faith to stand together against hate and terror.

“This is a moment that should deepen our solidarity with all people who suffer from violence and terror,” affirmed Kemper, who was between flights, resting in the Turkish Airlines lounge, when gunfire erupted and three bombs were detonated by suicide bombers shortly before 10:00 p.m.

The scene was one of panic and chaos, he reported. “I heard this incredible blast and shooting, and it seemed to be very near. At first, you think it’s terrorism, but you don’t think it’s real. But then people started running and running and running,” unsure of just where to go to escape danger, he recalled. “It was really scary.”

At least 41 people died and 239 were injured in the violence.

“I experienced shared vulnerability with people of many faiths and people of no faith last night,” Kemper said. As he and other panicked travelers scrambled for safety, he noted, he was in the company of “people of all nations.” He hid in a kitchen with a Chinese man, consoled a young Turkish woman, and ultimately left the airport on a bus together with a Somali family and a crowd of other survivors.

“I felt this common humanity among us — whatever our faiths — that we need to reach out and take [each other’s] hands and change this. Can’t we build on this recognition of our shared vulnerability to link arms to overcome violence and terror?” he urged.

In statements to the press, Kemper underscored that most of the people who were hurt, killed, or traumatized by this and other acts of terror are Muslims. “And they suffer and they flee and they are refugees. And we have to open our arms and together [create] a different world with them,” he said.

“These are our friends. These are our allies. They are Muslims, but together, we have to stand up against hate. Together we have to stand up against terror … If we are not together as [people of] faith in this world, we will never overcome terror,” he underscored.

Recalling other recent acts of terror and mass violence in Paris, Brussels, and Orlando, Florida, Kemper stressed, “We have to get better at reaching out and affirming our shared vulnerability and that we are one human family.”

* Linda Unger is senior writer at the General Board of Global Ministries.

Find the original posting here.

Recently Viewed: Thomas Kemper at the Istanbul Airport During the Terror Bombing

General Board of Global Ministries

The General Board of Global Ministries is the global mission agency of The United Methodist Church, its annual conferences, missionary conferences, and local congregations. A major responsibility of Global Ministries is to connect the various parts of the Church as United Methodists engage in global mission. The aim of Global Ministries is to be a biblically rooted, historically informed, and organizationally flexible means of spreading the good news.

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Paul W.
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Paul W.

I guess it’s asking too much to expect the head of a Wesleyan organization to mention Christ, sin, and the need for salvation in response to such a horrific tragedy. What does a statement like “if we are not together as people of faith in this world, we will never overcome terror” even mean from either a practical or a Christian context?

J. Neal
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J. Neal

Maybe start by reading evangelical Amos Yong’s book on interreligious hospitality as a core Christian practice. Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian Practices and the Neighbor. Biblically solid…and not universalist. But arguing that standing together “as people of faith” in a context where the most vulnerable are suffering is precisely what robust Christian faith requires. Kemper’s inclusive language is absolutely appropriate given the seriousness of the walls that divide us. And particularly given the rhetoric of this election cycle.

Richard F Hicks
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Richard F Hicks

My wife and I stand ready to donate $20,000 immediately to Global Ministries if GM uses it to evacuate CHRISTIANS from the hands of MUSLIMS. I’m in the book. Give me a call. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

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