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April 16, 2013
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We all remain in a state of shock and deep sadness over the bombings near the Boston Marathon Finish Line. As we continue to receive updates and news from this tragedy, our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who died, and to those suffering injury and trauma from this horrible and senseless act. May we continue to pray for all of the victims and their families, as well as those responding with medical care, investigations, and spiritual care for the victims and the whole community.

The outpouring of love and support from friends and colleagues in our United Methodist connection has been overwhelming and wonderful. We appreciate so much love and kindness being showered upon our conference and our city in our time of need. And yet, we also realize that, while the location of the Marathon is here in Boston, this is a global event with participants, visitors, and visibility from around the world " I read that 96 countries were represented in the race. This was not simply an attack on Boston, or on the Marathon, but on the global community. We cannot help but ask why.

With this, we must recognize that there are, and will continue to be, many questions as we process all that has happened -- what these events means for our lives and our faith. We all struggle with these questions and with forgiveness. I have received many communications from people of all ages with these kinds of questions. Earlier today, I offered these thoughts on my Facebook page, and I share this quote by Samuel Wells, who writes the following words in the Christian Century that just arrived yesterday: "Forgiveness shouldn't be the last thing Christians have to say in the face of injustice. It should be the first thing. Forgiveness says, "You can hurt me, but you can't take away my allegiance to Christ. You can be cruel to me, but you can't make me become like you. You can crush me, but you can't put yourself outside the mercy of God." (1)

But even with the wisdom of such words, we still struggle with our questions. In times like these, we come together as the people of God to seek comfort, strength, and help even to pray, as the apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:26, ""the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." We need each other and we need the Spirit to guide us in this journey of faith in the midst of our profound grief and loss.

Tonight and in the coming days, many of our churches and other places in the area are opening their sanctuaries and offering services were we can gather together, with our sighs and prayers too deep for words, to seek comfort, healing, and hope. A listing of these can be found below, and a frequently updated list will be kept at www.neumc.org/healing. We encourage you to attend one of these services as you feel the need, and to invite family, friends, and colleagues as well, as our services are meant be open and inclusive " all in the community are welcome, regardless of religious affiliations or beliefs.

Friends, as we unpack all our feelings, pain, and emotions in the days and years to come, may we be centered in God who created both the victims and those who are responsible for this action, and may we seek to find justice and peace. May God"s reign break through in our hearts and in our world.

Finally, may we take comfort in knowing we serve a God of justice, love and peace. As the words of Prophet Isaiah 58:9 remind us, "Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."

In Christ's love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

Prayer services
These are just a few places open for prayer this evening. If your church will open your sanctuary or have a prayer service or vigil, please send an email to communicate@neumc.org and we will list your service at www.neumc.org/healing.
7:00 PM tonight " April 16, 2013
Service of Prayer and Healing
Old West Church, United Methodist
131 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA
This service is offered by Metro Boston Hope District, Old West Church, and Union UMC together.
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Rev. LaTrelle Easterling (MBH), Rev. Marion Easterling (Old West), Rev. Jay Williams (Union).
7:00 PM prayer service tonight " April 16, 2013
Christ Church United Methodist
2 Brook Street
Wellesley, MA
Rev. Hope Luckie
6:00 PM " 9:00 PM tonight " April 16, 2013
Sanctuary open for prayer
Calvary Church, United Methodist
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA
Rev. Christine Elliott
Visit www.neumc.org/healing for updated listings.
New England Conference page Resources for Times of Tragedy
Resources from the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) to help congregations deal with the aftermath following the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday. The resources include:
"""" Articles on how to deal with trauma, including how talk with children about the events in Boston
"""" Listing of hymns and songs in response to terrorism from The United Methodist Hymnal and other church songbooks
"""" Appropriate calls to worship
"""" Music for an offertory prayer song and a special hymn about coping with terrorist bombings
"""" Act of praise response to terrorism

(1)"Samuel Wells, "Naboth's Vineyard and God's Justice: Forgiving Ahab," Christian Century, April 17, 2013, p.34.

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

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Contact us
New England Conference Center
276 Essex Street
PO Box 249
Lawrence, MA 01842-0449
PHONE: (978) 682-7676
FAX: (978) 682-8227

Bishop's Office
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Brenda Borchers, Administrative Assistant
PHONE: (978) 682-7555 ext. 250
FAX: (978) 682-9555

Transformed by the Holy Spirit, united in trust,we will proclaim Christ boldly to the world.