Members of several denominations, including Episcopalians, have developed prayers for the victims of mass shootings.
Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi thinks of that split second in a Tacoma record store decades ago. The beat when he turned toward a man with a gun to ask, “What did you say?” and saw his own 19-year-old face in the man’s mirrored shades before his body hit the floor.
Hayashi spent two months in the ICU and almost died after being shot in the stomach during the robbery. He now advocates with a group of other U.S. Episcopal bishops on the issue of gun violence. In 2018 the clerics decided their push was missing something: a prayer.
What resulted was a pleading that could only have been created by and for our modern America: “A Litany In The Wake Of A Mass Shooting.”
The prayer is among a new generation of spiritual tools specifically designed for the horror of mass shootings. Written by an Episcopal priest for the bishops, it was constructed with the cruel assumption of its growth, with additional shootings that result in more than four deaths continually added at the end. The litany now takes more than 12 minutes to pray.
In 2016, the Union for Reform Judaism — the largest and one of the most liberal denominations of Jews — released “Against Gun Violence,” a prayer written in response to the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed.
In 2016, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offered “Prayer for Peace In Our Communities.” The prayer, which refers to being “surrounded by violence and cries for justice,” is also, like the litany, constructed as a pleading.