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Reaffirming Our Renunciation of Evil: A Message from Bishop Shannon

Dear People of God in the Diocese of Vermont,

Yesterday, members of our diocese prayed and fasted as we joined people of many faiths to mourn the deaths of over 100,000 people from COVID-19. We also grieved the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade and countless others whose lives were taken because they were black. We lamented the grip of white supremacy that has allowed them no justice. We lamented and mourned morning, noon and night. We prayed and read our sacred texts, a balm in this troubled time.

Last night the president used military force to violently disperse peacefully gathered people, including our siblings of the Diocese of Washington. Just moments before, the president said he supports peaceful demonstrators. Clearly, this was a lie. I denounce the use of force required to clear his way to pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square. Using precious objects of our faith as props in a display to uphold white dominance and violence is a blatant display of evil.

The words of our Bible are the lifeblood of our prayers. They teach us about peace, love and justice, and sustain us when we need hope. The words of the Bible connect us to the life and teachings of Jesus. Through him we have learned to love our neighbor and build beloved community.

The circumstances of the pandemic and the current unrest have brought this nation to a place where we can no longer deny the brokenness of a society that is built on the subjugation and oppression of many while a few control most of the economic wealth. The church must call out this systemic callousness and disregard for the dignity of human beings. We must realize that striving for justice and peace will make us uncomfortable and challenge many to give up their privilege.

We must reaffirm our renunciation of evil, and renew our commitment to Jesus Christ. Please pray for the people of St. John’s. Pray for the healing of our nation; that we would be healed from the viruses of racism and COVID-19.

Peace and blessings,

Bishop Shannon

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