Pastoral Message in Response to Attack at Tree of Life Synagogue

October 30, 2018

Dear Members and Friends of Abiding Presence,

I write to you with a heavy heart as I continue to grieve the horrific acts at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Any killing or act of hate is tragic, but when it happens in a sanctuary while people are worshiping it hits especially close to home for people of faith.

As the faith family of Abiding Presence, we will continue to denounce acts of hate in our community, nation and world. In light of the multiple hate-filled attacks this past year on the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax and now the horrific killings at Tree of Life Synagogue, we join our voices to those who condemn hate, violence and anti-Semitism in all forms.

As I preached this past weekend, our baptismal liturgy guides our actions in times like these. All of us share in the baptismal calling to “care for others and the world God made and work for justice and peace” (ELW baptismal liturgy). Now is the time for us to care for our brothers and sisters at Temple B’nai Shalom and in the larger Jewish community. Last night I was present at B’nai Shalom for their service of remembrance as a sign of our love and solidarity with them in this time of grief and fear.

This Friday, I will be back at B’nai Shalom with some of our church council members to worship at their weekly Shabbat service and help host their oneg (AKA “coffee hour”) after the service. It is another small way for Abiding Presence to show our care, love and commitment to stand with our Jewish friends during this time.  

Thanksgiving Eve will be an opportunity for all of us to stand together in solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters at Temple B’nai Shalom. In light of the events of this past year and, especially, this past week, our joint Thanksgiving Eve service is more important than ever. If you are in town, please make a point to join me in being present for it. This year we will worship at Temple B’nai Shalom on Wednesday, November 21 at 8:00 p.m.

In addition to answering our baptismal calling to care for others, we also need to answer the call to get to work bringing justice and peace to our community, nation and world. We will pray, but we will also turn our prayers into action.


Our heavy hearts find hope in the promise that God is not yet done with us or our world. So we pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”



Rev. Meredith Lovell Keseley
Senior Pastor

 P.S.  – Here is the pastoral message from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton following the attacks at Tree of Life.