Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We write tonight with heavy hearts, as once again our nation and the world have experienced senseless horror and death at the hands of a gunman. The killing of fifty innocent people and the wounding of more than fifty in a nightclub in Orlando last night and early this morning is a gross display of evil that goes against the will of God and all human decency. The fact that the shooter: was able to purchase the weapons used to kill innocent victims easily and legally, targeted gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, and, ostensibly pledged allegiance to ISIS, shows how easy hate can be manifested in death dealing terror.
Hearts that we hoped would break no further have torn open again and the wound goes deeper into our soul. We offer our hearts to God in prayer, perhaps not finding the strength within us to “lift our hearts," but the conviction that God will hold our broken hearts and fill them with his compassionate love.
As followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we are called to challenge all actions that seek to do harm and kill innocent victims out of prejudice, bigotry, and fanaticism. We stand with the LGBT community who has once again been targeted. We extend our care and concern to our Muslim neighbors as they celebrate the holy season of Ramadan. We ask that you join us in prayer for those who have died and been wounded, for their families, friends and loved ones, for first-responders and medical professionals who attended the victims, and for the shooter himself.
We pray that helpless feelings this night will not prevail. God is a God of hope and new life always, even in the darkest storm. May our words and actions be ones that move all towards healing and reconciliation. May our words and actions move all to a deeper understanding of one another and a willingness to stand against all injustice that places fear in the hearts of all of our communities.
"Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan