CBF’s Paynter releases statement following Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

October 28, 2018

By CBF Communications

DECATUR, Ga. — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter released the statement below following the murder of at least 11 congregants and wounding of four police officers and two others inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“We begin our morning prayers with tears and lament for violence and wanton murder at the Tree of Life synagogue of Pittsburgh. We offer love, strong support and the pledge of solidarity to our Jewish neighbors and friends in cities and towns across the country in the aftermath of hatred and violence.

Our words and deeds of compassionate and true friendship must follow our lament. We grieve for each family suffering loss and join hands in protection of houses of worship to forge bonds of solidarity to end hatred and violence. We condemn ideologies of white nationalism and white supremacy that motivate support for domestic terrorism against Jews, Muslims, African Americans, political rivals and persons of color.

Our nation is beautiful in its tapestry of religious freedom and beautiful in the diversity of all people of goodwill that bless and do not curse their neighbors. In our houses of worship this morning, we are reminded of Jesus’ question ending his teaching of the Good Samaritan—“which of these people acted like a neighbor?” or in some translations “which of these people became a neighbor?

Shaking our heads in sorrow and grief is not a strong enough response to the actions of such violence and evil. Ideologies, words of hatred and murder are not the final response. In each community, we need responses of unmistakable public solidarity, friendship and condolences. As a witness and response to acts of violence, we need words of blessing, acts of neighborly love and generous, public goodwill. To quote the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”


The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry eff­orts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. Learn more at

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