'That's our blood that was shed': Sri Lankan bombings hit home for Lexington's faith community

Published: Apr. 21, 2019 at 10:49 PM EDT
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The Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed at least 207 people are being felt strongly by members of Lexington's faith community.

Stan "JR" Zerkowski is the founder of Lexington UNITED Interfaith Encounters and also leads the interfaith ministry at St. Paul Catholic Church.

Even though the blasts were half a world away, they hurt all of us, Zerkowski said, because we are all "one family."

"When something happens to part of the family, whether they be Mulsim or Christian or Buddhist or Hindu, that's our blood that was shed. That was our blood that was shed there in Sri Lanka today. Those are our sisters and brothers and those are part of our family," Zerkowski said.

Zerkowski said he feels the rhetoric and tone of the conversation in our own country was what we saw played out in Sri Lanka.

"When we vilify others and demonize others, we see the kind of bloodshed we saw this morning," Zerkowski said.

Zerkowski said the "epic" attack has ruined the Easter holiday for Catholic Christians in the worst way possible. He draws parallels to Lexington's own problems with violence.

"Here in Lexington, we're ruining lives, we're ruining families, we're ruining community when we take the lives, the senseless shootings of sisters and brothers," said Zerkowski.

Zerkowski said the foundation for a peaceful world is to respect one another and each other's dignity. He advocates a dialogue for understanding our differences that he calls a "culture of encounter."

"When we know someone else, when we understand someone else, when we have a name and a face that we realize is a brother and a sister, we won't be able to do these dreadful things," Zerkowski said.

To those touched by Sunday's bombings, Zerkowski's message is "take comfort in your faith."

"Despite what it looks like, evil will not have the last word. We believe in the Resurrection. They were taken during their celebration of the Resurrection, and we as Christian believers believe that it is ours to spend eternity with God, and so those people went from an earthly celebration to knowing the fullness of God's glory and God's love," Zerkowski said.

To try to address Lexington's violence, St. Paul Catholic Church will host "United in Blood: A community response to gun violence and the necessity of sensible gun control laws," presented by Lexington UNITED Interfaith Encounters.

The event takes place Monday, May 6th at 7 p.m.