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Across the country, Episcopalians continue to pray and act to end gun violence

Across the country, Episcopalians continue to pray and act to end gun violence

In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in nearby Dickinson checked in on its Santa Fe families, opened its doors for prayer, hosted a community prayer vigil that evening, and offered resources for talking to children and youth about gun violence and their safety.

In Ohio, the Rt Revd Mark Hollingsworth, Jr, a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, wrote to members of his diocese late Friday night, in part:

The reports today of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, are horrific and shockingly familiar. That we must stop and focus on them in order for the magnitude of their unacceptability to get through our defenses demonstrates how inured we have become to gun violence. Our immediate reaction may be heartache and compassion for victims, families, and communities, but in short time, and in spite of the courageous voices of students calling us to accountability, the conversation fades into the background noise of our political and social diversions. Although we hear repeated claims that everything possible will be done to make our schools and streets safe from gun violence, there is little, if anything, to show that we mean it.

As Christians, our first response of course is prayer: prayer for those killed; for their friends, families, teachers, and colleagues; for their communities; and for the perpetrator of this horrendous act. Prayer leads us to rely on God for comfort and hope, and challenges us to open ourselves both to God’s vision of a responsible and safe society and the courage to act boldly to achieve it. Followers of Jesus cannot accept today’s shootings simply as part of a new reality. It is our calling and responsibility always to work without ceasing toward the new reality of resurrected life and bring to life on earth that which we believe replicates the kingdom of heaven.

It is impossible to imagine that there is gun violence in the risen life, and we should accept no less in our expectations and aspirations for earthly life. To that end, we must stand up, speak up, and, together with our legislators, build on earth that which is enjoyed by saints and angels above. There is no question that accomplishing this is hard work. But that is what God expects of us, and we must accept that, no matter what solutions we try, they will cost us perhaps even rights, practices, and privileges we have previously enjoyed. Whatever that price may be, it will never approach the value of the lives of God’s beloved lost today.

[Read the whole message here.]

On Saturday, St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New London, New Hampshire was packed with young people seeking to continue to address the scourge of gun violence, using the momentum that gathered after another school shooting just a few months ago in Parkland, Florida. A member of St Andrew’s youth group, Kate Kelly, spoke to reporters from WMUR:

There’s been a lot of school shootings and I don’t feel comfortable with that and I don’t feel safe, and I know so many people don’t, and so that’s another reason that a lot of students have been behind this movement. 

WMUR’s transcript continues:

Kate Kelly is one of the members of Saint Andrews Youth Group that has brought that conversation to its New London community. About 100 people filled the church Sunday afternoon.

The youth group hosted a panel discussion about guns and gun violence. Find the video report here.

How is your local and regional church continuing to address the continuing problems posed by gun violence?


Featured image: screen grab from WMUR’s report on a panel to address gun violence hosted by St Andrew’s Episcopal Church youth group in New London, NH, on Saturday


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