David Uth learned about the Pulse nightclub massacre after he woke up and saw the news push-notifications on his phone.
“I sat down on the side of the bed and I said, “Lord, help me and help us to look like you right now,’” said Uth, the pastor of the 16,000-person First Baptist Orlando. “I knew anger was my first feeling.”
With no playbook about how to respond to a tragedy of this scale, Uth reached out to other megachurch leaders. First Baptist opened their doors for a prayer vigil that was attended by the governor and mayor. Uth told his congregation to actively solicit the victims’ needs so that the church could assist with them.
“We need to go out there and find out as many needs as we can,” Uth told them.
This week, Uth spoke with a friend of his who pastors a church in Las Vegas, a community currently grieving the mass shooting that left 59 dead.
“He asked me, ‘What do we need to do?’” said Uth. “I was thankful to give help and guidance. Immediately, we sent him $10,000 overnight because I said, ‘You’re going to run into needs that you never dreamed you would run into. I want you to be able to do it without thinking about your budget.’”
Uth joined assistant editor Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss how the Orlando massacre changed his approach to ministry, how the tragedy changed his church’s relationship with the LGBT community, and the lasting trauma his community still suffers.