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Posted at 03:31 PM ET, 06/04/2012

What would you do? Local faith leaders discuss church member charged in murder


Alexander Kinyua. Kinyua (Hartford County Sheriff's Office - via AP)
Though members of Baltimore’s Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church are shocked at murder and cannibalism allegations against fellow church member Alexander Kinyua, they still plan to offer Kinyua and his family their support.

“We’re going to stand with the family,” Faith Evangelical Pastor Eric T. Campbell said outside his church Sunday. “We’re going to support the family, and Alex, too.”

Kinyua, of Harford County, Md., was charged last week in the killing of his roommate, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and has also confessed to eating some of his victims’ organs.

Some contributors to The Washington Post’s local faith leader network were asked what they’d do if they faced a similar situation with a congregant.

From the Rev. Tom Knoll, pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church in the District.

“First, according to our system of justice we are innocent until proven guilty. That being said, I can understand why the church stands by the family and the young man accused.  Given the nature of the crime this situation strongly indicates that psychology counseling is also desperately needed here.  This is one thing that the church could advocate for in this case. 

“Second, Jesus taught that despite our sin there is always forgiveness.  Matthew 18:21-22 indicates that forgiveness as Jesus describes it is unlimited.  This does not mean that those committing a crime should go unpunished.  Christians believe that it is the right and duty of the state to provide laws and carry out appropriate justice when those laws are broken.  Nevertheless spiritual support should be given to all no matter what the situation or how gruesome the crime.”

From Bill Haley, pastor, the Falls Church Anglican and director of formation at the Washington Institute:

“In the Christian faith, offering forgiveness is not only commanded, it is also the most Christ-like thing we can do.  ‘Father, forgive them,’ Jesus said.  But to forgive is very hard, for to forgive requires that something valuable has  been taken from us.   However, when we do this hard work, and sometimes it takes seventy-times-seven conscientious acts of the will to forgive, both the offended and the offender can find liberation.”

In response to a shooting that claimed two lives last month at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Md., the Rev. Eugene Sutton Taylor, bishop of the Maryland Episcopal Church, also wrote about the idea of forgiveness.

“The words and actions of Jesus Christ that demand of his followers the power of forgiveness.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”

“It doesn’t get much more direct from Jesus than that.”

By Andy Smith  |  03:31 PM ET, 06/04/2012

 
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