CHICAGO
Rev. Jonathan Reinink leads prayer at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Chicago, commemorating the beating of Matthew Shepard.

Rev. Jonathan Reinink leads prayer at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Chicago, commemorating the beating of Matthew Shepard. —Photo by Rick Jones

Attendees at the Mid Council Leadership Gathering in Chicago, took time out during the meeting this weekend to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the beating of Matthew Shepard. On October 6, 1998, Shepard, a gay college student, was abducted, beaten and left for dead near Laramie, Wyoming. He died six days later from severe head injuries.

During Saturday’s conference, the Rev. Jonathan Reinink, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s church support associate for special offerings, prayed in remembrance of Shepard and others who have been verbally or physically abused for their sexual identity.

As a community who gathers in your name, O Lord,
Representing your faithful followers of a broad spectrum of political, theological and social views,
We remember that your heart breaks any and every time brokenness is felt by one of your children.
For those who have felt the sting of slurs or the strike of a fist,
Simply because of the way they express or live into their sexual or gender identity or orientation,
We ask for your healing and your strength.
For those who feel anger or anxiety around those who do not look, sound or act like them or how society says they should,
We ask for your healing and your strength.
For those who feel anger or anxiety around those who do not look, sound or act like them or how society says they should,
We ask you to give compassion, understanding, and enlightenment.
And for all of us leading your people,
Give us wisdom in our leadership.
The knowledge of when to keep quiet,
The fire to speak up when we should,
And the confidence that only comes from your Spirit.
In those moments when we have absolutely no words of our own,
Support your children, O God, and may we be
Your hands, your feet, and your voice.
Amen.