Stand Together as People of Faith

Led by General Secretary Thomas Kemper, the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church is adding their voice to the #WeStandWithLove movement.

By Linda Unger, senior writer at the General Board of Global Ministries

Shortly after surviving the bombing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Turkey, Thomas Kemper, leader of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, called on all people of faith to stand together against hate and terror.

“This is a moment that should deepen our solidarity with all people who suffer from violence and terror,” affirmed Kemper, who was between flights, resting in the Turkish Airlines lounge, when gunfire erupted and three bombs were detonated by suicide bombers shortly before 10:00 p.m.

The scene was one of panic and chaos, he reported. “I heard this incredible blast and shooting, and it seemed to be very near. At first, you think it’s terrorism, but you don’t think it’s real. But then people started running and running and running,” unsure of just where to go to escape danger, he recalled. “It was really scary.”

At least 41 people died and 239 were injured in the violence.

“I experienced shared vulnerability with people of many faiths and people of no faith last night,” Kemper said. As he and other panicked travelers scrambled for safety, he noted, he was in the company of “people of all nations.” He hid in a kitchen with a Chinese man, consoled a young Turkish woman, and ultimately left the airport on a bus together with a Somali family and a crowd of other survivors.

“I felt this common humanity among us — whatever our faiths — that we need to reach out and take [each other’s] hands and change this. Can’t we build on this recognition of our shared vulnerability to link arms to overcome violence and terror?” he urged.

In statements to the press, Kemper underscored that most of the people who were hurt, killed, or traumatized by this and other acts of terror are Muslims. “And they suffer and they flee and they are refugees. And we have to open our arms and together [create] a different world with them,” he said.

“These are our friends. These are our allies. They are Muslims, but together, we have to stand up against hate. Together we have to stand up against terror … If we are not together as [people of] faith in this world, we will never overcome terror,” he underscored.

Recalling other recent acts of terror and mass violence in Paris, Brussels, and Orlando, Florida, Kemper stressed, “We have to get better at reaching out and affirming our shared vulnerability and that we are one human family.”