Dear Companions in Christ in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut:
We write in the wake of the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas where nineteen young children and two teacher/adult care givers were shot dead yesterday. Our hearts break for all those who have lost loved ones, especially those who are children, in this heinous act of gun violence. We pray for all who have been affected by this horror. We pray that our loving creator will hold the school children and teacher in God’s loving embrace of life immortal. We pray for the families and loved ones who grieve this day with an unfathomable loss. And we give thanks for the first responders and medical professionals who have selflessly given of themselves to protect and aid those who have been affected. May Christ’s peace be with all who mourn. And may the truth of Jesus’ triumph over death in the resurrection we celebrate this Easter season give hope and courage to all who grieve this day.
The circumstances of the Uvalde shooting are strikingly reminiscent of our own Sandy Hook tragedy. So much of yesterday’s shooting are strikingly similar to those of December 14, 2012: a lone young male gunman, the shooting of a family member of the gunman on the way to the mass shooting, the killing of scores of innocent children in an elementary school, and the death of an adult teacher trying to protect the children. The facts bring back the awful memories and feelings of ten years ago. Trauma is real, and the trauma that we all felt from Sandy Hook has surfaced again with the realities of yesterday’s horror. As your bishops, we invite you to connect with one another for love and support in this time of re-traumatization. Speak with your clergy person about what you are feeling. Work together as clergy and lay leaders to hold your community in love and care with prayer, liturgical offerings, and community events. Clergy, connect with colleagues and counselors to share what you are feeling and experiencing. And reach out to us and/or Dr. Louisa Baker, Director of our Clergy and Family Assistance Program, to access spiritual and mental health care. Together we can help each other get through this time of re-traumatization.
We have been in touch with Bishop David Reed, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, assuring him of our love and prayers. He was so thankful to hear form us as companion bishops who, sadly, have sat in the same seat he now occupies. Please pray for Bishop David and all in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas in these difficult days, that they will be given the words and actions needed to bring about healing and support. Finally, siblings in Christ, we must work together to end gun-violence in this nation. This senseless killing has got to stop. This is not how a civilized society acts. We urge you to do all in your power, as followers of Jesus, as citizens of this nation, to bring an end to gun-violence. We commend the resources of Bishops United Against Gun Violence as a resource for your prayer and action.
May the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Christ in this difficult time.
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding. Deal graciously with the families of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan