In the wake of Nov. 13 terror attacks that shocked and traumatized a city, a nation, and the world, Presbyterians across the U.S. stand in solidarity, pain, and prayer with the people of Paris and those affected by terror attacks in Beirut and Baghdad earlier in the week.
From Greensboro, N.C., Jim Hooper writes that he heard from his cousin, Christian, age 57, over the weekend.
“Christian, who has lived in Paris since reaching adulthood, and his wife's three sons are all okay, as well as all extended family members and their friends,” says Hooper, whose French-born mother Suzanne and Texas-born father T.W. met in Orleans during World War II. “Christian's late mom Ninette and my late mom Suzanne, originally first cousins from Orleans, legally became sisters when my French grandparents Edouard and Jeanne adopted Ninette due to the unexpected passing of her parents early in the occupation.”
A ruling elder at Starmount Presbyterian Church, Hooper says that “the horrific events in that area of Paris Friday night brought back memories of what my mom Suzanne told us she experienced slightly south at the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter during the time it was shut down by the Nazis.”
Hooper is grateful for the prayers of his congregation and denomination, whom he joins in prayers for peace.
“During this past weekend while we prayerfully awaited word, we were particularly concerned about Christian's oldest son Evan, age 24, an outstanding recent university graduate,” he says. “Christian and his family live in the area in Paris where the attacks occurred and up until a few years ago his brother Jean Claude, my other cousin, owned a boutique food store in that area that he sold in order to move to the countryside in retirement.
While they are relieved there was no harm to family members or friends, they're heartbroken about the loss of so many young people who were celebrating the end of the week on Friday night in typical, festive Paris fashion.”
“Almost 50 years ago, I spent my junior year abroad in France, mainly in Paris,” says Marty Lancaster, a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., where she sings in the choir. “Each Sunday I worshipped at either the French Reformed Church near where I lived or at the American Church in Paris. Although I have no present day ties to either of them except to worship there if we are in Paris, my heart goes out to their members as they are adjusting to the new reality of life in my favorite city. Known or unknown to each other, we are all one through our belief in Christ the King.”
In the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, the Rev. Jin S. Kim, senior pastor of Church of All Nations—whose members hail from many cultures, nations, and from every continent—spoke with Deacon Bertin and other members of the congregation’s West African Ministry on Sunday after the bombings in Beirut and Paris.
“Deacon Bertin, a native of Cote d'Ivoire with family and friends in Paris, said that this incident shook the whole West African fellowship at Church of All Nations,” says Kim, “but as many Christians live side by side with Muslims in parts of Africa, that the attack in Beirut must also be grieved and that this cannot be an excuse for more violence, neo-colonial racism, or religious intolerance. ‘We are all praying for peace,’ he said.”