Family Promise CEO Statement on Birmingham Church Shooting

June 17, 2022

A statement from Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers:

Early this morning I received a text from the executive director of our Affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. The latest shooting to become national news had taken place at a church that is in their network, a congregation that has hosted families, shared meals, and created community. At this time, we do not know who the victims are or their connection to Family Promise, but they were part of the church, part of the community, and people with lives, dreams, and families like every one of us. 

I have known this executive director for years, and when I was in Birmingham earlier this year, she gave me a lovely and thoughtful present: two beautiful prints of photos her nephew had taken at Sloss Furnaces, a local historic landmark I love. This morning, I could feel her pain through her text messages. 

I texted her back to ask how I could help. She replied, “Cry? Get completely pissed off?” She added, “Wtf is wrong with the world….” 

The racist shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, last month was in the neighborhood of another Family Promise Affiliate, and staff and clients shopped there often; one case manager had been there with her family earlier that day. We don’t have a presence in Uvalde where the recent school shooting took place, but the majority of the 187,000 people we served last year were children, and we grieve with those families in Texas. Every day, it seems, lives are cut short senselessly – the lives of parents, children, neighbors. 

I am not going to offer thoughts and prayers, though we share their pain and wish for healing. Instead, I am going to offer that the executive director in Birmingham is 100 percent right: There is something seriously wrong with the world. While our focus at Family Promise is empowering families to achieve and sustain housing, more broadly we also want to ensure justice and peace. We want a world where someone is not killed because they are Black, where children are not slaughtered, where people gathering in fellowship are not murdered. 

So many days cloud the heart, but we will always seek the light. Love, peace, and justice will win. We have seen that happen countless times at Family Promise – and that is something that is right with the world. 

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