Church Shows Compassion, Tears for Orlando Community Rocked by Violence
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As the nation mourns the loss of 49 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Christians in Orlando are reaching out to provide support.
First Baptist Church of Orlando is holding a citywide prayer service Tuesday, June 14 at 7 p.m. The church is using the hashtag #LoveOrlando to spread the message across social media.
"It's a time to show the love of Christ; it's time to step up and be his arms and his hands to wrap up these families and to wrap up this community in the love of Jesus," Dr. David Uth, senior pastor at First Baptist Orlando, told CBN News. "And I believe the body of Christ is called upon now to demonstrate his love for all people. One of our core values is all people matter to God, and they matter to us."
Watch the entire interview with Pastor David Uth of First Baptist Church of Orlando by clicking the player above.
Uth believes it's a time for churches to reach out to the local LGBT community.
"I think that gives this a backdrop that I believe the love of Christ will shine even brighter, and I hope that that's what is communicated and that's what comes from the body of Christ during these days," he said.
First Baptist is a 14,000-member congregation, so it's equipped to welcome large numbers of a grieving community trying to move forward after being victimized by terrorism.
"It will be an evening to pray for the community and certainly the families of the victims," Uth said, referring to Tuesday's prayer service.
"But also we are remembering Christina Grimmie and her family because she was the one killed that began the weekend of violence here in Orlando. And so we don't want to leave her out because she was a strong believer, and her family will be here with us tomorrow night as well," he said.
A gunman shot and killed the 22-year-old former finalist of NBC's "The Voice" at a Florida concert venue before killing himself during a struggle with Grimmie's brother. Grimmie died early Saturday morning.
Uth told CBN News that Sunday morning services at First Baptist were filled with emotion as members of the congregation tried to process the violence and were called to pray.
"As the day progressed, I tell you I cried; man, I stood there and wept in front of our people," Uth shared. "And there was a lot of emotion that built up, and I was so thankful that I sensed it from our people."
"Because the Scripture calls us to weep with those who weep and calls us to compassion and calls us to care, and I just feel like... as the morning went on, I saw that as it really began to rise up in our people. And I saw great compassion, and as a result, there have been a lot of things our people have done already to minister to folks," he said.
Uth said he welcomes the prayers of the body of Christ.
"I just want the prayers obviously of everyone, and I want to thank the folks all around the Church at large," he said. "I've gotten a great text and a prayer from a church in British Columbia. I've gotten texts from missionaries in South Africa."
"So I've heard from the body of Christ in so many places, and what I would say is pray that the love of Jesus be manifested among his people," he continued. "And that the takeaway is that what evil wanted to do, God took and glorified his Name. And so, pray that for us as we serve our Lord in these very difficult times in Orlando."
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