Faith leaders from across the country who lived through deadly shootings at their places of worship visited the Washington National Cathedral Monday night for a group discussion involving D.C. public safety officials.
The talks inside the cathedral, closed to press coverage, included Eric Manning, senior pastor at Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina; Alan Hausman, vice president of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Rev. Frank Pomeroy of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The aim of the talks — hosted by the cathedral and sponsored by D.C. police, the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, and the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs — were to draw some benefit from the dreadful experiences of the churches and synagogue.
“Our goal as the District and as a public safety community is to learn from them so that we can better help the faith community here in the nation’s capital become safer, stronger and more resilient,” said Christopher Rodriguez, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
Nine people were shot to death at a bible study group at the Charleston church in 2015, 11 were killed at the Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and 26 were killed at the church in Texas in 2017.
D.C. officials and leaders of the Washington National Cathedral addressed reporters before the session began.
“We believe that one of our primary ways to prevent terrorist attacks in our city is through cooperation between law enforcement and the community,” said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham. “We ask our community to be our eyes and ears and play an active role in reporting suspicious behavior or activity.”
“The instances of violence against houses of worships are part of a larger epidemic of gun violence in our country that affect the people on our streets, that affect the children in our schools, that affect people in their places of worship,” said Washington Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde.