As he finished a Zoom call Wednesday, Rev. Dr. John Nuys was stunned to see photos of a pro-Trump mob surrounding the U.S. Capitol.
As guards tried to keep the mob from entering the building, Van Nuys recognized the door from his own visit to Capitol Hill.
“I was like, ‘Wait, I’ve walked through that door. I’ve been there,’” said Van Nuys, pastor of Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church. “It’s a beautiful building, and … I don’t think people are exaggerating when they’re saying this is a secular temple to democracy.”
Van Nuys and other faith leaders reacted to the events in Washington, D.C., which happened on Epiphany or the day western Christians celebrate the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.
Churches called on the faithful to lead days of prayer for the victims of the siege and a peaceful transition of power. Bishop Julius C. Trimble of the Indiana United Methodist Conference called the attack “the eruption of a volcano that has been bubbling for some time.”
Seventy United Methodist pastors from across the state signed a letter apologizing for their silence before the storming of the Capitol. The pastors wrote they “too easily recall moments when we stood by silently as violent rhetoric was espoused, as lies were perpetuated, as hatred was stoked.”
The pastors of Rock Point took to the church’s Facebook page with Bible verses seeking to guide the country in crisis.
“Someone once said that when a person comes upon a fire (crisis), they carry two buckets with them. One has gasoline in it, the other water. The bucket they choose to pour on the fire will have a great impact on what happens next,” the pastors wrote. “In times of crisis, we do not get to control how others respond and what others pour on the fire. We only get to control how we personally respond and what we personally pour on the fire.”
At Wabash Avenue, a guest speaker had already written and recorded the sermon for Sunday’s worship service.
Van Nuys added the victims from the Capitol and law enforcement to his pastoral prayer, which thanked Trump for committing to a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20.
“Trump invited the mob, he invited folks to come. He incited them and then he lit the fuse,” Van Nuys said in an interview. “You can’t lead and do that, you just can’t. I mean, you can, but if you do you get things like we saw [Wednesday.]”