The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Bishops' statement on San Bernadino shootings

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
 
We write with heavy hearts. Once again our country is shaken with the horrific news of another mass shooting, this one in San Bernardino last Wednesday where fourteen people were killed and over twenty injured. We decry any and all violence that is perpetrated on innocent victims whether in San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Paris, or Syria. We pray for the victims of the shooting in San Bernardino, their families and loved ones, and we give thanks for the heroic and selfless offering of first responders, police, firefighters, and medical workers who attended to the wounded and dying.
 
The shooting this week comes as we approach the third anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, where twenty-eight children and adults died from gun violence on December 14, 2012. We note that San Bernardino is the largest mass shooting in the United States since the Sandy Hook tragedy. It reminds us of the pain and suffering that we in Connecticut felt, and continue to feel, whenever guns result in the death of innocent people.
 
Yet the senseless killing seems to continue unabated. According to the Washington Post, the shooting in San Bernardino is the 355th mass shooting in the United States this year; and it was not the only mass shooting on Wednesday as one person was killed and three others injured in Savannah, Georgia, earlier that day. In addition, each year over 30,000 Americans are killed by gun violence, close to 60% of these victims at their own hand.
 
This kind of gun violence has got to end. Citizens in the United States, over 90% of whom favor universal background checks for gun purchases, need to work with our political officials to help make our country safe from gun violence. And we Christians must stand up and state publicly that the senseless killing of any person, each created in the image of God, is contrary to the Gospel and our faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
 
As bishops of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut we invite each and every one of our 169 parishes and worshipping communities to join in the third annual Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath on Sunday December 13, the day before the 3rd anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Information on the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath is available from Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence (http://www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org and http://www.marchsabbath.org ) and from Bishops United Against Gun Violence (http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org ).  In addition, we include below for your parish's use a litany written by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine, for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath.
 
We ask that you please let us know how you and your parish and/or worshipping community plan to participate in Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. We will attempt to share ideas and resources as we receive them with the wider Episcopal Church in Connecticut through our website:  www.episcopalct.org.
 
May your Advent be filled with the hope and expectation that the coming birth of Jesus, God with us, will bring about a new reign of peace in our nation and in the world. O come, O come, Emmanuel.
 
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan
 
A Litany for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath
Sunday, December 13, 2015
written by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine
 
Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us with your love as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence.
 
For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially Barack, our President, our Governor, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 
For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders, for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.
 
For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope.
 
For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 this year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care.
 
For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change.
 
For your dream of love and harmony, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.
 
All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
 


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