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Episcopal reactions during a complicated and tragic week

Episcopal reactions during a complicated and tragic week

(Updated #3) We began this week celebrating the Fourth of July, as the week unfolded we experienced violence and counter-violence. Here are some Episcopal reactions during a complicated and tragic week.

(New #3) Presiding Bishop Michael Curry released this video:

Bishop George Sumner of Dallas in the aftermath of the attack on police officers in that city during an otherwise peaceful protest, where five died and seven were wounded:

As I was writing my blog this evening, the news about our own city came across the TV. Our hearts go out to the officers who have died, their families, and those who have been wounded. Police serve to preserve order and protect us all, and in so doing they are daily exposed to danger; this resulted in tragedy this evening. We need to be praying for all those harmed, indeed for all those in public service, especially the police. We intercede for the rapid apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators.

In this season in our national life, everything becomes a political football, though we hope that this does not happen here. In recent days we have been disturbed once again to hear of the shootings of African American men in different parts of our country.   These concerns offer no warrant for murder, nor should we associate the latter with legitimate and peaceful demonstration. Threatening public peace and order endangers all of us as citizens, and we stand with those who work to keep us safe.

I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society.   May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness. May we all be praying for the welfare of our city and all its inhabitants. May He protect all exposed to danger in their work.

(new #1) From the Diocese of Fort Worth:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The news of the fatal shooting of four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer in Dallas last night is horrifying and heartbreaking. Make no mistake. This is a devastating loss for their colleagues, for Dallas, for all humanity. As President Barack Obama said, it was “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

We hold all of Dallas in prayer today.

That these shootings happened during a demonstration aimed at reforming police departments in the wake of two more shootings of black men by police officers makes them at once more heartbreaking and more dangerous. It may be tempting to lash out at those protesting, to blame the “Black Lives Matter” movement for this violence. We pray that people refrain from doing so.

The organizers of the march in Dallas emphasized as they expressed their own horror and grief that “violence doesn’t heal violence.”  As they said, it is important to remember that trying to reform police departments is not about hating the police.

As this investigation unfolds, we urge all to stay centered in prayer and in the knowledge that all of us, black and white, civilian and police, are valued and beloved children of God. Our commitment in our Baptismal Covenant shows us the way forward – to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. Hold fast to this in the coming days.

May God help the brokenhearted, heal the wounded, comfort those who mourn, and give us the strength and courage to move forward toward a more just future.

The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., assisting bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

The Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, assisting bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Bishop H. Robert Hirschfeld of New Hampshire post the following on Facebook:

Bp Hirschfeld of NH Jul 8 2016

Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington wrote on July 7 (before the Dallas attack):

We must be clear, white racism is sin. It violates the sacred dignity of black lives. In the face of sin of any kind the church must respond. And so, what must our response be? It must begin with a call for God’s justice. We as a church cannot be silent in the face of the unjust systems and structures that continue to trap black men, women and children disproportionately in the cycle of poverty. We cannot explain away the fact that black men account for roughly six percent of our nation’s population and almost half of its homicide victims. We cannot ignore the existence of the school-to-prison pipeline or an unjust system that sentences black Americans to die in a prison-industrial complex.

Yes, we must pray for the family and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as they grieve and try to understand the loss of their loved ones. But we must do more than that. We must commit ourselves to joining God in making God’s justice real in our land.  This means doing all that we can within our communities, our churches and our homes to free ourselves from the sin of racism that every day threatens the lives and wellbeing of our black brothers and sisters. For us to do anything less is to be complicit in that very sin.

And so to God we must pray: “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalm 119).

(New #1) From Bishop Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut:

Morning Prayer this morning felt more like Mourning Prayer. Still reeling from the violence from Tuesday in Louisiana and Wednesday in Minnesota, in each of which a black man was killed by police during an encounter, the news rolled in from Dallas about the police officers ambushed during a peaceful protestThursday evening, with five officers killed and seven more injured. And beyond these numbers, countless lives were impacted directly and indirectly by these acts. The impact hurts us all.
Our prayers this morning are indeed prayers of mourning for those who have died. Our prayers are for all those who have died this week and for those who have been injured, their families and loved ones. We pray for those who offered themselves as a peaceful witness in the great city of Dallas last night and I encourage us to hold onto their witness for peace. I pray for peace and for the courage to continue to witness to the powerful voice of love that peace reveals….
…Our prayers are lived through our actions as well as our words. We have work to do. Participating in God’s Mission calls us to build bridges of love, justice, and peace. Grounded in God’s love for us and our love for God, we are called to reach out to those around us who are hurting and those in need, extending God’s love with ears that seek to listen, words that seek to comfort, touch that seek to heal and hearts that seeks to love. We are called to work of peace and justice, building bridges that connect us where we are still divided by “isms” of prejudice, oppression and difference. Fear cannot build these bridges, but we can — when we are not trapped by our fears, but rather freed by God to walk in love. May we be about this work today and every day.

(New #2) Bishop Jim Waggoner of Spokane:

Over the past 48 hours, we in this country and across the world have seen a constant showing of horrifying and heartbreaking violence and death.  In response, I ask that we continue to pray for the victims, for their families, and for those who grieve and strive to find some measure of hope and peace, remembering especially those who were killed in Minnesota, New Orleans, and Dallas and for the families and friends that now suffer the grief and loss.

And pray for all that reasonable restraint may prevent the repetition and continuation of such actions for both victims and violent offenders.

While we cannot by a program or a prison stop the all too familiar scenes of violent death, we do have a role in deescalating the dialogue, of engaging in addressing the causes and that contribute to the senseless deaths, and in refusing to participate in behaviors such as bombastic language and demeaning, detrimental false descriptions of other people, their practices, their cultures, and the circumstances.  Behavior that serves no one well, especially in the public forum.

We all have a calling and responsibility to respect and protect the dignity of every human being.  May we in this diocese continue to demonstrate what that means and how it gets lived out in action.

More reactions may be found here.


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Philip B. Spivey

I concur with Bishop Budde’s analysis. Murder is murder and no life, before Jesus, is any more valuable than another. But to hear the media today, you would think so. So what we must come to terms with is that white supremacy does reign throughout our country and our uniformed police are not victims of it; Black folks (and other marginalized) are. I don’t know any Black folks that feel safe around the police. Most of us run the other way. Are you listening, media?

Get used to the fact that there will be no peace without justice. We can discuss these issues forever (as an excuse to do nothing) or we can begin to do the work of dismantling a racist system of justice. Anything else is complicity with the bad guys.

Leslie Marshall

Self control is a fruit of the spirit. No man can tame the tongue. [But God can]. The spark of the tongue (constant streams of rhetoric in news feed & social media!) has set wild fires that are out of control.

Free speech is a wonderful thing in USA, but mob mentality is and always will be … dangerous /violent.

–that said, my adult sons are antagonized nearly every day, by police, by neighbors, by sales clerks, because they are young & black. [They say Obama made it much worse for them.] They also say they are judged poorly for their Christian faith & often criticized because they are well-spoken. I worry constantly. And my poor husband… a neighbor once told him not to put recycle bottles in our own recycle bin… he was accused of stealing his own empty cans! He’s asked to carry luggage at hotels, and he’s been asked to fetch drinks at the country club. He’s asked to show his business class airline ticket to the person that sits next to him. And last week , he was asked to collect money at the vegetable stand for the produce. People are so stupid. Sorry for venting. This is a difficult time we live in.

JC Fisher

My sympathy for your family, Leslie. In hindsight, it was perhaps naive to NOT expect the “two steps forward” of electing the first African-American President would consequently bring the “one step back” of racist backlash.

The times are indeed (as always) difficult…but God is still working God’s purpose out!

Thom Forde

This need to make A Statement – so often before any facts are known – is tiresome.

And Dr. Flint – Godspeed! Personally, I hope you are crossing the Bosphorus but the Chair of St. Peter is fine too.

David Allen

A constant flow of negative comments also gets tiresome.

Dr Flint has expressed support for LGBT folks and marriage equality, I have to wonder how many churches will support/tolerate his pro-gay/conservative world view?

Jim Frodge

In seeing how off topic these posts have become maybe we should move over to Topix for additional input on this original story.

Tony Wesley

William, I am sincerely confused. Could you help me understand what the “this” is to which you are referring in your first post. I feel like I came in the middle of a conversation and I would like to understand your POV.
Peace and all good.

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