A pastor in Connecticut has apologized for taking part in a vigil for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School because his church does not allow worshiping with other faiths.
Rev. Rob Morris of Newtown’s Christ the King Lutheran Church offered a letter of apology after he was reprimanded by church president Matthew Harrison for “joint worship with other religions,” according to the Religion News Service.
King Lutheran Church is a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which bans ministers from praying alongside Muslims, Jews or even other Christians.
Morris had provided the closing benediction at the Dec. 16 vigil in Newtown.
“There is sometimes a real tension between wanting to bear witness to Christ and at the same time avoiding situations which may give the impression that our differences with respect to who God is, who Jesus is, how he deals with us, and how we get to heaven, really don’t matter in the end,” Harrison wrote in his letter of reprimand. “There will be times in this crazy world when, for what we believe are all the right reasons, we may step over the scriptural line.”
Harrison argued that “the presence of prayers and religious readings” meant that Morris should have not participated in the Newtown vigil.
In his apology letter, Morris explained that he had spoken to his supervisor before participating in the vigil but “I made my own decision.”
“I believed my participation to be, not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy,” he said.
Missouri Synod’s Rev. David H. Benke was also suspended for about two years after he participated in an interfaith service with a Muslim imam, a rabbi, a Catholic cardinal and others 12 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Watch the entire Dec. 16 vigil for the Sandy Hook victims below: