Throughout the evening of Jan. 6 and into the early morning, the Rev. Alisa Lasater Wailoo was texting with members of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church who were under siege at the U.S. Capitol.
The Capitol Hill church, at Fifth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, is about five blocks away. Many members also live in the neighborhood and know someone who works at the building, the pastor said.
United Methodists both near and far were disturbed by the actions of a mob that forced its way into the U.S. Capitol as Congress was starting to fulfill its constitutional role by certifying the election of the next U.S. president.
“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement,” said former President George W. Bush, a United Methodist, in a statement.
“The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”
At First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, members gathered for a drive-in prayer service and candlelight vigil.
“We see tonight in D.C. a symptom of what ails our nation, our world and even ourselves,” said the Rev. Melissa Earley. “May we recommit ourselves to the work of forgiveness and may we recommit of work of abiding in the peace of Christ.”
Eventually, lawmakers were able to return to the building, finishing the work of confirming the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president shortly before 4 a.m. U.S. Eastern time Jan. 7.
For those Wailoo and others had been concerned about, “everyone is home and safe, but the peace that was robbed from them yesterday is really significant,” she told United Methodist News.
“Part of what has so saddened me has been to watch our members who have given up so much to serve their country and have been dehumanized and villainized by this president. And we know that dehumanization eventually leads to violence.”
Wailoo said her church has both Republican and Democrats who are members. “We want to be a place that God brings us all together and we do intensive work to do that.”
But she added that challenging hate speech and lies, like those about fraud, is not about politics, it is about following the call of Jesus to speak the truth.
The actions of the mob grieved the heart of the Rev. Ianther M. Mills, senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, who was born in the district.