Orlando: US Church leaders urge prayer for victims

A vigil took place outside the White House after the Orlando massacre.Reuters

US Church leaders have expressed their horror at the massacre in Orlando and called on Christians to pray for survivors and their families.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Michael Curry, released a video message from Vicksburg, Mississippi, where churches were commemorating the murders of Civil Rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964. He said: "We are very aware there are other innocent victims in Orlando, Florida at the shooting there. We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died. We pray for those who were wounded, that they may have healing. We pray for the families and those who grieve. We pray for our communities, our nation and our world. Indeed, we pray for the entire human family."

Rev Nancy Wilson, global leader of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which reaches out specifically to LGBT people and their families, told Reuters: "We're heartbroken and we're in shock that 50 members of our community, young people at a night club having a good time, were just mowed down in this way, and we know now that this was definitely a hate crime, which always proceeds from fear.

"Our community has experienced violence and oppression before, but this is of such a scale that I think we can't take it in yet."

MCC's Joy Church in Orlando held a vigil yesterday evening attended by one of the shooting victims, identified only as 'Orlando'. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he told the congregation, "God was not ready to take me."

He said he had hidden in a bathroom at the Pulse nightclub for three hours. "Every time I heard a shot, I thought, I hope that's not one of my friends," Orlando said.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Orlando, John Noonan, tweeted yesterday: "We pray for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando this morning, their families & our first responders. May the Lord's Mercy be upon us." He is to lead a vigil this evening to "dry the tears" of the community at St James' Cathedral.