Every Religious Group Has the Right to Assemble Safely
an open letter from the spiritual leaders of Southwest Pennsylvania

We invite our region's spiritual leaders (including both clergy and lay leaders, as leadership is defined in various ways in our diverse traditions) to add your names to this statement using the form at the bottom of this page. You'll need to scroll past all the signatures. If you encounter any technical difficulties, or if you notice any mistakes in how your name is listed, please contact us.

June 20, 2019

We sign our names to this letter with gratitude, concern and hope.

Our gratitude begins with thanks to the FBI and its employees who uncovered and foiled the plot to harm the Legacy International Worship Center in Pittsburgh, PA.  Their expertise saved lives and protected the rights of our neighbors to worship without physical threat.  Our gratitude extends to all those who work on behalf of the public safety across our region and who regularly ensure the well-being of the members of our communities. We are grateful to them as they live out their dangerous mission and live up to their oath to protect all of us in the great diversity that is the hallmark of the United States of America.

 

Our concern is focused on the spiritual and emotional well-being of the Legacy International Worship Center congregation and their leaders.  We hold them close as they go through this challenging time and trust that they can thrive beyond these circumstances.  As residents of Southwest Pennsylvania we know what can happen when violent hatred is directed at communities of faith.

 

Our concern continues with the attempted taking of innocent lives in worship as retribution for religious or political differences.  It is never acceptable to attempt to kill innocent people as a sign of religious or political devotion.  Our concern also extends to those who might be stereotyped as ‘other’ because of the actions of one individual.  We have seen this type of stereotyping throughout history and in our own days.  It serves as the foundation of hatreds we are committed to overcoming.

 

Our hope begins way back at the beginning of our diverse faith traditions. All of us believe that humanity is connected to one another through the act of Creation.  We belong to each other despite and because of our differences. Our hope extends to all neighbors of good will who in Pittsburgh, Southwest Pennsylvania and around the world have joined together to say we are “STRONGER THAN HATE.”  

 

We will replace animosity with love.

We will replace separateness with connectedness.

We will replace hostility with neighborliness.

 

Signed by:

Rabbi Ron Symons, Senior Director of Jewish Life, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

The Rev. Liddy Barlow, Executive Minister, Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania

Joshua A. Sayles, Director, Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Bob Silverman, Chair, Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Rev. David Ackerman, Conference Minister, Penn West Conference United Church of Christ

Ms. Barbara Alden, Pittsburgh, PA

Ava Alt, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Rebecka Andrae, Council Member, St. Paul Lutheran Church NALC, Trauger, PA

Mr. Mehry Anvarinia, Baha'i Faith, Monroeville, PA

The Rev. John Ballance, Minister for Pastoral Care, First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh

Rabbi Amy Bardack, Director of Jewish Life and Learning, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Rev. Tom Barnicott, retired United Methodist clergy, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Gerald Bass, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Deborah Benton, Southminster & The Olive Branch 4 U, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Amanda Best, Religious and Spiritual Life Initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Aaron Bisno, Senior Rabbi, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Elizabeth Bjerke, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Helen Blier, Director, Continuing Education, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dr. Marian Block, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Zack Block, Executive Director, Repair the World Pittsburgh

The Rev. Dr. Cyndi Bloise, Pastor, Jefferson United Methodist Church, Jefferson Hills, PA

The Rev. Rebecca Booher, Ligonier, PA

Dr. Alfred Bortz, Temple David, Monroeville, PA

Mr. Joshua Botts, Director of Family & Youth Ministry, Second Presbyterian Church, Oil City, PA

The Rev. Peg Bowman, Asst. Pastor, Incarnation Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Catherine Bowser, Co-Pastor, St. Peter's E&R UCC, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Angelique Bradford, Pastor, First United Methodist Church Ellwood City/Homewood UMC, Ellwood City, PA

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Brall, Pastor, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Canonsburg, PA

Ms. Kristen Brandt

Ms. Jackie Braslawsce, Executive Director, NA'AMAT Pittsburgh Council (formerly Pioneer Women)

Ms. Charlee Brodsky, Pittsburgh, PA

Fr. Donald Bushyager, Canon to the Ordinary, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

The Rev. Emily A. Byrd, retired pastor, Western PA United Methodist Conference, Uniontown, PA

Ms. Margot Cavalier

Deacon Elizabeth Caywood

The Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, St. James Episcopal Church, Penn Hills, PA

Ms. Laura Cherner, Assistant Director, Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Mr. David Chudnow, Volunteer Center Manager, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Ms. Cara Clarke, Aspinwall, PA

Mr. Brian Cohen, Congregation Rodef Shalom, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Judith Cohen, Executive Director, Jewish Women's Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh

Mrs. Ateret Cope, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Sister Sharon Costello, CSJ, Congregational Moderator, Sisters of St. Joseph, Baden, PA

The Rev. Carolyn Cranston, Director Alumnae/i & Church Relations, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Mr. Timothy Crossen, Religion Dept. Chair, Serra Catholic High School, McKeesport, PA

The Rev. Dr. John Dalles, Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Tricia Davis, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. James Davison, retired clergy

Mx. Katherine Davoli, Ruling Elder, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Brigitta Del Re, Mission Action Committee Chairperson, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Jane Duffield, Pastor, Waverly Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Doris Dyen, Makom Ha Lev, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Doug Dyson, First United Methodist Church, Sharon, PA

Carol Emerson, Ruling Elder, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Squirrel Hill, PA

Dr. Jonathon Erlen, history of medicine professor, Rodef Shalom, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Judith Erlen, organist, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. David Esterline, President, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Ms. Pamela Fagelson, Dor Hadash Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Jamie Fair, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Leah Fidler, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

Keshira haLev Fife, Kohenet, Kesher Pittsburgh

Sister Barbara Finch, Sisters of St. Joseph, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Susanna Finke, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. J. Fisher, Pittsburgh, PA

Miss Liz Fisher, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Michael B. Foley, Rector, The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill, PA

Ms. Jessica Fondy, Pittsburgh, PA

Pastor Charles Fox, First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Karen Frank, Beth El Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Malke Frank, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Carolyn Fronapel, St. Maria Goretti Parish, St. Lawrence O'Toole Mission, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Maurice Frontz III, Pastor, St. Stephen Lutheran Church (NALC), Scott Twp, PA

The Rev. Stephanie Gannon, East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church, Murrysville, PA

Rabbi James Gibson, Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Wayne Gillespie, Pastor, Christ's Lutheran Church, Murrysville, PA

Ms. Kathy Ginsburg, Temple Emanuel of South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. Donna Giver-Johnston, Pastor, Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Ellen Teri Kaplan Goldstein, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Cindy Goodman-Lieb, Congregation Beth Shalom & Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation, Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Keren Gorban RJE, Associate Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA

Cantor Michal Gray-Schaffer, Cantor and Spiritual Leader, Congregation B'nai Abraham, Butler, PA

Ms. Cynthia Greathouse, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Pittsburgh Coordinating Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Ms. Sharon Gretz

The Rev. Kimberly Greway, Director of Chaplaincy Services, Allegheny County Jail

The Rev. Dr. Deirdre King Hainsworth, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Stephanie Harris, Beth El Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Joseph Hedden, Jr., Pastor, Emmanuel Reformed UCC, Export, PA

The Rev. Janet Hellner-Burris, Christian Church of Wilkinsburg and Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project

Mr. Paul Hilterbrick, Director Safety & Security, JCC of Greater Pittsburgh

The Rev. Tami Hooker, PA

Ms. Catherine Hornstein

Mrs. Diane Iman, St. John's United Church of Christ, Evans City, PA

Mr. Bill Isler, Pittsburgh, PA

Major Margareta Ivarsson, The Salvation Army, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Lamont Jeffries

Taunya Jeffries

Mrs. Valerie Jennings, Repairer of the Breach Ministries

Ms. Marianne Jew, East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church, Murrysville, PA

The Rev. Carl Johnson, Dean, Mid-Northeast Mission District, North American Lutheran Church

Ms. Cheryl Johnson, Community Building Specialist, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Ms. Maryellen Johnson, President, Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Jocelyn Johnston, Pastor, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Erin Jones, St. John's Lutheran Church, North Versailles, PA

Ms. Susan Kalson, Congregation Rodef Shalom, Community Relations Council, and URJ Commission on Social Action, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Alina Kanaski, Pastor

Ms. Julie Kant, Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills, Mars, PA

Rev. Myra Kazanjian, Parish Associate, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Joyfa Kelly, Jeannette, PA

The Rev. Craig Kephart, Executive Presbyter, Washington Presbytery

The Rev. Erwin Kerr, Retired Clergy, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. J. LaVon Kincaid, D.Min., Pastor, New Life Community Ministries, Penn Hills, PA

Miss Jessica Kirby, Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Cheryl Klein, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb, Pastor, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Danielle Kranjac, Senior Jewish Educator, Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh

Mr. Duwayne Ladd, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Blairsville, PA

Mrs. Marlene Layton, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Rev. Todd Leach, Associate Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Salem Leaman

Mr. Ken Levin, Board Member, Community Day School, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Wendy Levin-Shaw

Ms. Kay Liss, Temple David, Monroeville, PA

Dr. Irina Livezeanu, Director, Jewish Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Rabbi Jessica Locketz, Temple Emanuel of South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Susan Loucks, Co-Clerk, Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Heather Lubold, Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Paul Lubold, Pastor, Rider Lutheran Church, West Sunbury, PA

The Rev. JJ Lynn, Pastor, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Etna, PA

The Rev. Jim Magaw, Pastor, UU Church of the South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. John Magnuson, Associate Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Alexis Mancuso, Assistant Executive Director, JCC of Greater Pittsburgh

Ms. Myra Mann, Baldwin Community United Methodist Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Sandra Marsh-McClain, retired clergy, Belle Vernon, PA

Ms. Geraldine Massey, Center of Life, Hazelwood, PA

Ms. Ann Mason, Community of Reconciliation Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Marie Mays, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

The Rev. David V. McFarland, Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Darlane McGill, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Sharon McIntosh, Minister, Coalition Against Violence, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Seth McPherson, Christ United Methodist Church, Bethel Park, PA

The Rev. David Mears, Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Dorseyville, PA

Pastor Beth Meier

The Rev. Daniel Miller, Pastor, West Liberty, Branchton, and Ridgeville United Methodist Churches, Slippery Rock, PA

Mr. Robert Miller, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Linda Miller-Pretz, President, Pittsburgh Association of the United Church of Christ

The Rev. Elizabeth Michael Ross, Pastor, Community of Reconciliation, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Karen Miyares, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Michael Mokotoff, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh

Ms. Catherine Mossburg, First United Church of Christ, Millvale, PA

Dr. David Morse, retired United Methodist clergyman, Monroeville, PA

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life*Or L'Simcha

Julie Newman, Cantor, Tiferet, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Lisa Osachy, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Peggy Osborne, Retired Deacon, Christ United Methodist Church, Bethel Park, PA

Mrs. Julie Paris

Mr. Harilal Patel, Hindu Jain Temple, Monroeville, PA

Mr. Daniel Pearlman, Classrooms Without Borders, Pittsburgh, PA

Minister Nathaniel and Kara Pennybaker, A Love That Won't Fail Marriage Ministry

Ms. Cheryl Polito, Elder, Outreach Committee, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Mt. Lebanon, PA

Deborah Pratt, Trinity United Church of Christ, Greensburg, PA

Pastor Ryan Pusch, Hebron and St. Paul's Highfield Lutheran Churches, Vandergrift, PA

The Rev. Jana Quisenberry, Minister, Brightwood Christian Church, Bethel Park, PA

The Rev. Dr. Martin Rafanan, retired clergy, Pittsburgh United Lutheran Ministries, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Kimberly Rapczak, Spiritual Care Coordinator, Supportive Care, Allegheny Health Network

Ms. Leah Givelber Reiter, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Daniel Resnick, Dor Hadash, Pittsburgh, PA

Sabina Robinson, Congregation Beth Shalom, Pittsburgh, PA 

Ms. Deborah Romeo, IT Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Dr. Carol Rose, Temple Emanuel of South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

Joan Rothaus, Past President, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg, Pittsburgh Presbytery, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Lynn Rubin, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

Miss Gina Sapienza, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Ellen Sautter, Justice & Witness Committee Member, Christ United Church of Christ, Latrobe, PA

The Rev. Robert Schaefer, Pastor, The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Monroeville, PA

Mr. Al Scheimer, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Cynthia Schneider, Christ United Methodist Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Edward Schoeneck, Senior Pastor, Monroeville United Methodist Church, Monroeville, PA

Ms. Audrey Schoenwald, Dor Hadash, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Brian Schreiber, CEO, JCC of Greater Pittsburgh

Ms. Beth Schwartz, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Larry Schwartz, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Matt Schwartz, Temple Emanuel, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Marsha Sebastian, Co-Pastor, Community Three-for-One, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. sOm Sharma, Founder/Executive Director, AHINSA Gandhi Forum

Ms. Jan Shaw, Chair of the Marketing Committee, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Jan Barkley Sheldon, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dawn Sherwood, Pastor, Emmanuel United Presbyterian Church, Eighty Four, PA

Ms. Barbara Shuman, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Jeanna-Mar Simmons, Director of Missions and Outreach, Christ United Methodist Church, Bethel Park, PA

Ms. Ellen Singerman, Beth El Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Carolyn Slayton, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Mr. Elliot Sloane

Ms. Lois Slocum, Christ United Methodist Church, Bethel Park, PA

The Rev. Kelly Smith, Pastor, Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church, Wilkinsburg, PA

Mr. Ari Sobel, Temple Emanuel, South Hills, PA

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge, General Minister, Pittsburgh Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Mr. Nangali Srinivasa, Convenor, Hindu-Jain Alliance, Penn Hills, PA

The Rev. David Stammerjohn, First Presbyterian Church, Martins Ferry, OH

The Rev. Dr. George Steffey, retired clergy, Leetsdale, PA

Dr. Bill Stewart, Pastor, Oakland Gospel Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Patricia Stewart, Pastor, Oakland Gospel Church, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Laura Strauss, Pastor, Clinton Presbyterian Church, Clinton, PA

Pastor Dave Swanson, Pittsburgh Mennonite Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Barbara Symons, Rabbi, Temple David, Monroeville, PA

The Rev. Linda Theophilus, Pastor, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Jeannette Thomas, Smithfield United Church of Christ, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Deryck Tines, Pastor, KingdomGate Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Bishop Thelma Mitchell Tines, Presiding Prelate, Living Waters International Churches, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. John Titus, Minister, First United Church of Christ, Harrison City, PA

Ms. Shirley Ann Tucker, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell, James A. Kelso Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Ms. Hilary Tyson, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Sebnem Unlu, Executive Committee Member, Peace Islands Institute

Mrs. Jane Valinsky and family

Mr. Bill Vandivier, Elder, Waverly Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Kendra Williamson, Public Affairs Representative, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Pittsburgh, PA

The Rev. Dr. Donald Wilson, General Presbyter, Kiskiminetas Presbytery

The Rev. Dr. Richard Wingfield, Unity Baptist Church, Braddock, PA

Mr. Kenneth Witzel, Director of Public Affairs, Pittsburgh (West) Coordinating Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Ms. Arlene Wolk, Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Ruth Yahr, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA

Sister Linda Yankoski, President/CEO, Holy Family Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

Mrs. Edna Zimmerman, President Church Council, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Etna, PA

Bishop David A. Zubik, Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

as of 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, the list includes 226 signatures;

signers come from 6 world religions, including 18 Christian and 4 Jewish denominations.

more names will be added as the week continues

Call us:

412-688-9070

 

Fax us:

412-688-9091

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Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

616 N. Highland Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

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