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Time sensitive message from Bishop Aebischer regarding the possibility of threats against some churches as well as the state capitols between January 17th – 20th.

January 16, 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the South Carolina Synod,

I am always thankful for your faithful leadership, and especially so in the face of the polarization that our country is experiencing in the forms of rising tensions, uncertainty, and conflict during these unprecedented days. The violent events that happened on January 6th have been traumatic for everyone. My prayers do not cease to rise up for each of you, and for calm heads and the peace of Christ to prevail in our Nation.

We are living in truly chaotic times and it seems that every day we see or hear about violence directed at individuals or groups because of their beliefs, their skin tones, and/or their political views. As we celebrate the life and ministry of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend and prepare for the inauguration of a new president this coming week, we are hearing the possibility of threats against some “liberal” churches as well as the state capitols between January 17th – 20th. This morning the United Church of Christ shared a warning message with their congregations and leaders feeling that the threats were credible enough to warrant a word of caution. This warning has made its way across the internet and to some members of the ELCA as well.

I do not wish to add any anxiety into the system, and I do not want to alarm you or overreact, however I believe it is important to keep the lines of communication open and to do whatever we can to be prepared and to protect and care for our congregations and communities. I have spoken with the local FBI office and the agent indicated that he has not heard any specific threats. I have not heard of any threats to other congregations across the church, but I would not be able to forgive myself if something did happen and I had not shared this word of caution with you.

I simply want to encourage you to exercise caution but also to remain calm. I encourage those congregations who are worshipping online to continue to use that format both to protect people from any possibility of danger from this possible threat but also from the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases that we are experiencing in our state. And if your congregation is meeting in person for worship, please ensure that someone is monitoring all entrances and exits, or areas where you are meeting. Remember that the church has never closed, and it is not closed now even if we are not worshipping in our sanctuaries. I also seek to remember that our faith in Jesus teaches us: Life is stronger than death, and Love is stronger than hate.

Please join me in prayer…

Lord God, when we are assaulted by the troubles of life, and the deep waters of anger threaten to overwhelm us, do not let us sink. In your great compassion, hear us and help us. Deliver us from anger’s power over us. Lead us out of bitter silence and hurtful words so that we may speak the truth in love. Heal every heart set on vengeance, and show us the way to honesty and reconciliation; through the one who has shown us both impassioned zeal and forgiving love, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
ELW Prayer Book for the Armed Services p. 29

In peace,

Bishop Ginny Aebischer

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ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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