On April 27, in an act of vicious and deplorable hatred and violence, a gunman entered a synagogue in southern California and proceeded to open fire on the gathered worshipers, killing one and wounding three others before he was driven from the building. Sadly, the 19-year-old shooter, John Earnest, was a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Pastor Zachary R. Keele and the session of our hundred-member Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, California, issued the following statement concerning that horrific event:
"The atrocious crime of violence and hatred that took place at Chabad of Poway synagogue on Saturday, April 27, grieves us deeply and shatters our hearts. As a congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, we devote our lives to the love and mercy of the Lord to all of God’s beautiful children, from every nation, language, and tribe. Our most sincere prayers, condolences, and cares go out to the victims, their loved ones, and the congregation of Chabad. We deplore and resist all forms of anti-Semitism and racism. We are wounded to the core that such an evil could have gone out from our community. Such hatred has no place in any part of our beliefs or practices, for we seek to shape our whole lives according to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ."
We join the session and congregation of Escondido OPC to express the sincere sympathies and grief of all Orthodox Presbyterians to the people of Chabad of Poway in their great loss and heartache. And, along with our Escondido congregation, we condemn in strongest terms the sentiments of anti-Semitism and racist hatred which apparently motivated the shooter. Such beliefs are contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and have no place within our system of doctrine or in the teachings and practices of our church. We believe that God created man, male and female, in His own image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. And in love, we offer the gospel of the grace of God in Jesus Christ to every human being.
May God grant comfort to all who have been affected by this tragic and deplorable act. And may He help all of us, as His image-bearers, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
For the Orthodox Presbyterian Church,
The Rev. John D. Van Meerbeke - Moderator of the 85th General Assembly
The Rev. Ross W. Graham - Stated Clerk of the 85th General Assembly