Dear people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont
Once again, tragedy at the hands of gun violence has entered the life of our nation. A young white man, now identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed nine innocent people. As more details unfold, it seems clear to me that this act of violence is a hate crime motivated by racism. As a person of faith I utterly condemn this sinful action and call on other people of faith to increase our commitment to work and pray for an end to racial hatred and gun violence in our country.
My heart and prayers go out to the people of Emanuel, the families of the victims and the people of Charleston. I also pray for Dylann Roof and others who are prone to this type of violence for whatever reason. I pray that our society might find ways to turn from violence and devote our efforts more to the common good.
The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, has asked the people of that diocese to pray this familiar prayer attributed to Saint Francis. I invite the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont to join with our sisters and brothers in South Carolina in praying these words with special intent for the people most directly affected by this senseless tragedy, as well as for ourselves.
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loves as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”
Members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops, are asking churches in our dioceses to ring bells for 10 minutes at noon tomorrow (Friday, June 19). We suggest ringing the bells one minute for each victim and one minute for the soul of the individual who committed the crime. I ask that all Episcopal Churches in Vermont join in this witness to peace and hope for healing.
At the upcoming General Convention of The Episcopal Church being held in Salt Lake City, Utah one of the events I will participate in is the Bishops United Against Gun Violence prayerful procession “Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence,” on Sunday, June 28. I ask your prayers in support of this witness and in support of all who witness for peace and an end to violence in our society.