On the Shooting of George Tiller from
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson issued a statement in response to the
May 31 murder of Dr. George Tiller at Reformation Lutheran Church, an ELCA
congregation in Wichita, Kansas. Pastors Lowell R. Michelson and Kristin M.
Neitzel serve the congregation. It is part of the ELCA Central States Synod,
led by Bishop Gerald L. Mansholt.
June 1, 2009
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Dr. George Tiller and his wife, Jeanne, were gathering with the people of
Reformation Lutheran Church to worship and to celebrate Pentecost —
the coming of the Holy Spirit to God's people. It is unconscionable that Dr.
Tiller, who was serving as an usher and welcoming people to worship, should
be brutally murdered.
In the wake of his death we pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort his family
and all who mourn. We pray for the courage to be peacemakers, rejecting violence
as a means of resolving differences. We trust God's promise that neither death
nor life nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I express gratitude
to God for the witness of the people of Reformation Lutheran Church and for
the pastoral care being offered by Bishop Mansholt and pastors Michelson and
Neitzel in this tragic circumstance.
Today we cry out "Lord have mercy!' And we are so bold to proclaim and
believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)
Mark S. Hanson
Dr. George Tiller's Church - http://www.reformation-lutheran.org/index
The Reformation Lutheran Church family is shocked and deeply saddened by
the violent murder of Dr. George Tiller, a longtime member of our congregation,
that occurred in our church home May 31.
Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the
violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject
any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way
to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in
peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.
In the wake of this tragic event, our deepest concern is for the family of
George Tiller. We ask the community to join us in prayer for them as they
face the difficult days ahead. Our hearts ache with them. We also ask that
the family's privacy be respected.
Members of Reformation Lutheran Church have been deeply affected by this
tragedy. To address their needs, we are assembling a team of crisis intervention
In this time of uncertainty, we stand firm in the promises of Jesus Christ:
forgiveness, hope, love, and new life, even from death. We pray for healing
and peace to be restored. We offer our thanks for the many prayers of support
from across the country. Your words of encouragement are a blessing to the
people of Reformation Lutheran Church and Wichita.
The Rev. Lowell Michelson
The Rev. Kristin Neitzel
Reformation Lutheran Church
United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society - Executive
Director Jim Winkler
The assassination of Dr. Tiller
Dr. George Tiller was assassinated Sunday in plain sight of other parishioners
at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Ks. I never heard of George Tiller
until the news flash about his death, but I immediately had the sense that
his killing is significant.
Dr. Tiller was 67. He operated Women's Health Care Services. Its clinic has
experienced attacks over the years, including a bombing, by persons who oppose
a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Dr. Tiller himself was
once shot in both arms by an abortion opponent.
I immediately had the sense that his killing is significant.
Dr. Tiller performed abortions. He was among the few doctors in the United
States that did late-term abortions, a rare procedure accounting for only
1.4% of U.S. abortions.
I extend my prayers and sympathy to Dr. Tiller's family for their loss to
this act of terror.
I decry this needless act of violence against a man who provided safe, professional
care for women who found themselves making the difficult decision of abortion.
We must continue to do all we can to reduce the need for abortions.
Abortion is a gut-wrenching decision for those seeking it. The decision is
certainly not to be taken lightly. The controversy surrounding it is similar
to other crucial issues facing society today, such as war, immigration reform,
I’ve dealt with my share of people who vehemently express opposition
to me. On more than one occasion I have wondered if I might become a victim
As United Methodists, we say we believe in respectful dialogue. We say we
believe in loving one another even though we disagree. And, we say we believe
in not choosing violence as a method of resolving disputes.
Yet we in the United States live in the midst of a horribly violent culture
devoted to war and guns. Research finds that the more frequently you attend
church, the more often you approve of the use of torture. Something is deeply
As we mourn George Tiller, regardless of our views on abortion, let us remember
we follow a Christ who commanded us to "love our enemies." We must
once again claim peaceful co-existence as our mantra in a world where contradictory
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine
The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Episcopal Presiding Bishop “horrified” at doctor’s murder
[June 2, 2009] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
expressed her horror and calls for prayers on the murder of Dr. George Tiller
while he was in his church in Wichita, Kansas.
The following is the statement from Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori:
I am horrified to learn of the murder of Dr. Tiller, made even more painful
for occurring in a place of worship and sanctuary. I pray for him and for
his family, that all may know they are held in the palm of God's hand. I also
pray for those who believe that violence is ever the answer to disputes or
differences, that they, too, may be healed.
The Episcopal Church, with 110 dioceses in 16 nations, is a member province
of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
For more info contact:
Neva Rae Fox
Public Affairs Officer
The Episcopal Church
212-716-6080 Mobile: 917-478-5659
Wichita Area Episcopal Clergy
For more information contact:
June 1, 2009 Melodie Woerman, Director of Communications
A dozen clergy who serve Episcopal churches in the metropolitan Wichita area
have issued a statement expressing their sadness and horror at the murder
of Dr. George Tiller in his Wichita church on Sunday, May 31. They were joined
in their statement by the Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, bishop of the Episcopal
Diocese of Kansas.
The clergy said they were reaching out to neighbors in Wichita and beyond
of all denominations and faiths, and they urged others “to reach out
to your brothers and sisters in love without fear.”
The 10 priests and two deacons, along with Bishop Wolfe, said of Dr. Tiller’s
murder, “This was not a Christian act; this is not what Jesus taught.”
They said their faith in Jesus Christ makes them “absolutely certain
that violence will never prevail, and that darkness will not win.”
By early afternoon on Monday, two Wichita rectors had announced that they
would be available to their parishioners for special prayers on Wednesday.
The Rev. Cathie Caimano of St. John’s said her parish’s regular
Wednesday Evening Prayer service would include special prayers for the circumstances.
The Very Rev. Kate Moorehead of St. James’ told her parishioners in
an e-mail that she would be at the church Wednesday evening to pray and talk
with anyone who wanted to stop by.
The statement, with names of those signing it, follows.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love
of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We are writing as members of the Episcopal Clergy of the Southwest Convocation,
a region of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.
We are deeply saddened and horrified by the killing of Dr. George Tiller
while in his place of worship this past Sunday. As worship leaders this is
particularly devastating for us and our Christian communities, and worshipers
of God all across this country.
We are especially affected by this terrible act because violence precludes
relationship – and to move out of relationship is where sin flourishes.
Where can we go if murder is a solution? There is no hope, and there is no
discussion if all ends in violence and fear. Our concern is for our neighborhoods,
our churches, our friends and families, our communities and our cities. People
are drawn into places of worship precisely because worshiping God points us
to a larger truth.
More than anything, our belief is in the Risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, and
because of this we are assured that violence will never have the last word.
This was not a Christian act; this was not what Jesus taught.
We feel compelled to make this statement as witnesses to our faith, that
we hold absolutely certain that violence will never prevail, and that darkness
will not win. In the name of Jesus Christ, we reach out to all of our neighbors,
in Wichita and beyond, across denominations and faiths; we bid you to continue
to reach out to your brothers and sisters in love without fear. And we encourage
you to continue conversation even in the midst of differing views. We feel
assured that we can disagree without resorting to acts of violence.
Our prayers continue for Dr. Tiller’s family and everyone who has been
touched by this violence.
The Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas
The Very Rev. Katherine B. Moorehead, Dean of the Southwest Convocation and
Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Wichita
Deacon Patsy A. Abshier, Deacon, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Wichita
The Rev. Eric A. Anderson, Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Newton
The Rev. Catherine A. Caimano, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church,
The Rev. C.P. Criss, retired, St. James Episcopal Church, Wichita
The Rev. Betty M. Glover, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Winfield and Trinity
Episcopal Church, Arkansas City
The Rev. Liz Gomes, retired, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Wichita
Deacon Bob Hirst, Deacon, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Wichita
The Rev. Laurie Lewis, Curate, Trinity Episcopal Church, El Dorado
The Rev. Ronald R. Peak, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, El Dorado
The Rev. Steven Mues, Rector, Stephen’s Episcopal Church, A Combined
The Rev. Tom Wilson, Rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Derby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Officials
June 4, 2009
The murder of Dr. George Tiller on May 31st as he stood in the foyer of Reformation
Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, to greet those who were entering to worship
God is nothing less than abhorrent.
On behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we offer our deepest sympathy
to the family of Dr. Tiller and to our faith partners in the congregation
of the Reformation Lutheran Church.
The whole of our society is damaged when any one person engages in rhetoric
or acts of violence. The entire Christian Church is hurt whenever hatred pushes
its way into the sanctuaries of worship.
On the issue of abortion, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) has consistently called for every effort to be made to reduce unwanted
pregnancies and to work toward a day when abortions would not be deemed necessary.
It is also a matter of policy that in the case of late-term abortions, where
the baby appears to be viable, every effort should be made to preserve the
life of the child.
The PC(USA) has steadfastly sought to protect pregnant women, in community
with fathers, pastors, congregations, and physicians, as the moral agents
to face the profound decisions of pregnancy within the legal parameters of
On the larger issue of resorting to violence, the General Assembly has called
upon all people to engage in levels of discourse on issues such as this in
a way that allows people to relate to each other in respect. There is no place
in debate for a murder such as Dr. Tiller’s. Our churches, our streets,
our homes, and our businesses should all be sanctuaries of peace.
We urge law enforcement agencies charged with providing for the safety of
our citizens to renew their vigilance against such acts of terror, especially
in cases where individuals have previous records of violent activity against
women’s health clinics. We grieve with all of those who have been torn
by Dr. Tiller’s death and for those affected by the violence.
We join you in asking God’s blessing in God’s continued work
of turning death into life, and tragedy into celebration.
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian
Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Council
United Church of Christ
June 1 - Sandy Sorensen, the UCC's Washington-based Justice and Witness Ministries
minister and team lead, has issued a statement regarding the killing of Dr.
George Tiller. Tiller was one of the few doctors in the nation to provide
late-term abortions, and one of only two abortion providers in Kansas.
While motive has not yet been established in the Tiller case, his death marks
the fourth such slaying of a doctor on suspected causes of disagreement with
their practice of providing abortions or other reproductive health services
since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Sorensen reaffirmed the UCC's commitment to comprehensive women's health
care, including "the full range of reproductive health care services
regardless of their circumstances."
Sorensen's full statement is below.
We are shocked and deeply saddened over the murder of Dr. George Tiller,
gunned down in his church on Sunday morning in Wichita, Kansas. Our heartfelt
prayers, thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Dr. Tiller's family and
Dr. Tiller dedicated his life to providing high quality, compassionate and
vital reproductive health care services to women in great medical need, often
in the most difficult and heart-breaking situations. He was one of only a
very few doctors to provide medically indicated late-term abortions, even
in the face of frequent threats, lawsuits and acts of violence committed against
him and the clinic he served, Women's Health Care Services.
Dr. Tiller's death is a profound loss to the community in which he faithfully
lived and served, the patients who relied on him for the care they could not
receive elsewhere, his courageous and dedicated staff, and the community of
medical professionals who provide vital reproductive health care services
to women across the country.
Dr. Tiller was a man of conscience and faith, dedicated to the health and
healing of women. That he was murdered during Sunday services in his church,
a sanctuary of worship and prayer, is an affront to people of faith everywhere.
This act of extreme violence in a religious space is extremely troubling and
reminds us of the potential for religion to be used as a basis for acts of
hatred and violence.
While the motive of Dr. Tiller's killer is not yet completely clear, there
is no doubt that it sends a message of fear to health care providers and the
women they serve. They stand in need of our prayers and support in this challenging
time. As people of faith, we cannot remain silent in the midst of words and
acts of violence.
The United Church of Christ General Synod has repeatedly affirmed the right
of women to the full range of reproductive health care services regardless
of their circumstances. In the context of several Synod resolutions, it has
encouraged individual members and congregations to support women in following
their moral discernment and religious convictions related to their lives and
decisions about the completion or termination of a pregnancy.
Unitarian Universalist Assn. President Rev.
William G. Sinkford
(Boston -- June 1, 2009) Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev.
William G. Sinkford issued the following statement regarding the murder of
Dr. George Tiller:
I am shocked and outraged by the brutal murder of Dr. George Tiller. America
has lost a decent and courageous man. My heart aches for Dr. Tiller’s
grieving family and for the congregation of the Reformation Lutheran Church
in Wichita, Kansas, where the shooting took place. This extreme act serves
as a heartbreaking reminder that our churches have become increasingly vulnerable
to ideological violence in recent years.
Last summer a deeply disturbed gunman killed two people and injured several
more when he fired gunshots into a Sunday service at the Tennessee Valley
Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. He, too, claimed to be acting
on political grievances, in his case a bitter resentment of liberals and homosexuals.
That was not the first time members of our faith have been targeted by violent
extremists. In 1994 Dr. John Bayard Britton was killed outside the Ladies’
Center in Pensacola, Florida. His escort, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel
James Herman Barrett, was also killed, and his wife, June Barrett, was injured
in the shooting. The Barretts were Unitarian Universalists, religious people
whose service to women and doctors was an expression of their deep faith in
the right of individuals to make difficult moral decisions, often under agonizing
I am profoundly grateful for dedicated people of conscience like Dr. Tiller,
and I pray that one day all of them may live and work in safety.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is a faith community of more than
1000 self-governing congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious
freedom, tolerance and social justice.
For more information about the UUA, including recent press releases and news
articles, please visit our online pressroom at www.uua.org/pressroom.
Contact: Janet Hayes, Public Relations Director, Unitarian Universalist Association,
25 Beacon Street, Boston MA 02108, 617-948-4386
National Council of Jewish Women
June 1, 2009, Washington, DC -- The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
today expressed its outrage at the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who devoted
his life to ensuring that reproductive rights could be realized by American
women. NCJW President Nancy Ratzan released the following statement:
“NCJW is shocked and deeply saddened by the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
Dr. Tiller devoted his life to ensuring that women did indeed have choices
when confronted with an unintended or untenable pregnancy. His murder –
his assassination – is intended to terrorize not only all involved with
providing abortions but anyone even remotely associated with abortion rights.
That Dr. Tiller’s assassin sought him out in his place of worship makes
this crime all the more heinous.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Tiller’s family,
his colleagues, and all those who loved him and benefitted from his courageous
insistence on continuing to deliver needed health care, despite ongoing harassment,
bombings, and an earlier near-fatal attack. Dr. Tiller was one of a very few
physicians nationwide willing to provide late-term abortion services.
“NCJW deplores the ongoing clinic violence that has left seven others
dead and many others victimized. This campaign of terror has driven physicians
and clinics that provide much-needed services from many parts of the country
for fear of their own safety and that of their patients.
“We welcome the news that Attorney General Holder has upgraded security
measures protecting abortion providers, and we call on local law enforcement
authorities to do the same. May George Tiller be the last to die a martyr’s
death in the struggle to ensure that the constitutional rights of American
women can be freely exercised.”
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization
of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired
by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality
of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights
Contact: Nina Schwartz, 202 296 2588 x 7; firstname.lastname@example.org
California Council of Churches Executive Director
In the wake of Sunday's murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, the
California Council of Churches decries the wanton disregard of human life
so violently expressed by this hateful act.
"Good people everywhere may disagree about abortion," said CCC
Executive Director Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser. "But all people of faith
understand that murder, for whatever reason, is never justified. It is not
for an individual to judge another and impose a sentence of death."
The Council decries not only the murder of a well-respected doctor but the
shameful act of shooting him in the middle of his worship service. "No
further indication [is needed] of the contempt extremists have, even wrapping
themselves in the mantle of Christianity, for other beliefs, other views of
faith," said Schlosser. "To determine that Dr. Tiller's worship
was beneath this assassin's contempt, shows the utter lie of this notion of
'pro-life' or 'Christian' activism."
"As President Obama noted in his speech at Notre Dame," said Schlosser,
"our differences over abortion and the details of when full human life
begins must not lead us to violence and the eradication of our common humanity.
To shoot a doctor in cold blood makes manifest the arrogance that perpetuates
our inability to find our way as one people. Individuals acting as God do
not improve the world or fulfill any agreed-on notion of justice."