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Bishop’s Statement on Gun Violence

Beloved Members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego,

Every time I learn of another shooting, my heart is filled with sorrow, reflecting a grief that we, as a community of faith, all share. These moments remind me of the profound fragility of life and the destructive power of violence that can shatter that fragility in the blink of an eye. In the face of such tragedies, I am drawn back to the compassionate heart of Christ, who mourned with those who mourned and wept for the suffering of His people.

In Luke 22:49-51, amidst chaos and impending violence, Jesus demonstrates a profound stance against aggression. When his disciples, driven by fear, resort to force by asking, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” Jesus responds with unwavering compassion and restraint. He rebukes the violent act, stating, “No more of this!” before miraculously healing the injured servant of the high priest, thereby emphasizing his message of peace and forgiveness. In this moment, Jesus exemplifies the transformative power of resisting violence, urging his followers to resist the cycle of aggression and embrace the path of love and reconciliation. His actions echo through time, inspiring us to stand against violence and injustice with empathy and grace.

As Christians, we are called not only to grieve but also to act in love and conviction against the forces that drive such violence. It is a somber reminder of the urgent need for us to embody Christ’s teachings on peace, to stand together in advocating for justice and safety, and to tirelessly work towards a world where such horrors are no more. Each life lost to gun violence is a call to us, urging us to bring about change through our prayers and actions, rooted in the courageous love that our faith demands.

I encourage individuals and congregations to take actions that reduce the possibility of gun violence. Here are some suggestions taken from the Bishops United Against Gun Violence and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Gun Violence Prevention.

This work is emotional and overwhelming, and we simply cannot do it alone. Pray. Whether privately or corporately, we must pray for an end to gun violence. The Bishops United Against Gun Violence website offers liturgical resources to assist in prayer.

Gun violence is a matter of life and death, and disproportionately affects our country’s most vulnerable citizens, which makes it a faith issue. If you are a priest or deacon, you could preach about gun violence when appropriate; educate your congregation; and learn more about gun safety and gun violence and ways and programs to reduce it. The Bishops United Against Gun Violence website offers a good 6-week curriculum on gun violence prevention. You could also provide your space to hold meetings, vigils, or gun safety events like partnering with local law enforcement agencies to host a community gun buyback event.

Participate in local and national advocacy actions to decrease gun violence. Participate when there is a local march, demonstration, or vigil. Join in marking the Tenth Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Sunday on June 9th. On this day, it is traditional to wear the color orange—a symbol chosen to commemorate Hadiya Pendleton, a young life tragically cut short by gun violence in Chicago. Orange is the color worn by hunters for safety, and here it represents our collective urgency to protect and preserve life.

Every church should be a sanctuary to all who pass through the doors. Our Episcopal General Convention has long voiced a commitment to sensible gun regulations through numerous resolutions, a testament to our ongoing call to Christian stewardship and leadership in safeguarding all God’s people. Notably, the 2012 General Convention asked that all churches and diocesan workplaces be declared gun-free zones. I encourage the leadership in each congregation within our diocese to consider declaring itself a weapon-free zone. This declaration reinforces our dedication to nonviolence and the sanctity of life, central tenets of our calling as followers of Christ.

Find and join members of your community working on gun safety and gun violence prevention, and donate if able. Our Diocesan Gun Safety Working Group can suggest community efforts in your area. You can also join the Diocese Gun Safety Working Group by contacting chair Paul Conry at paul.j.conry@gmail.com.

In embracing these opportunities, we live out our call to Christian leadership, stewardship, and service, embodying the love of Christ that disarms hatred and violence. Let us move forward with the courage of our convictions, serving as examples of God’s peace and justice in our world.

 

In Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Brown Snook

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

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Category: #Advocacy, #Bishop's Blog, #Communications, #Worship & Formation

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6 replies to “Bishop’s Statement on Gun Violence

  1. Barrett Newsom | on May 8, 2024

    Thank you for highlighting this crucial issue. I am on the vestry at St Andrew’s La Mess. Years ago I suggested an event to raise money and local consciousness I called “March To the Cross”. The idea was to hike from our church to the top of My Helix. I thought of it then as a local event but maybe it could be something for all of EDSD. My plan then was for Father Bob Blessing to lead the march as he is an Army chaplain. March To the Cross could have the focus of ending gun violence and funds gathered earmarked for the Bishops’ organization. Our demographics makes it hard for our elderly parishioners, but young people might be energized by this cause.

  2. Ivy Conry | on May 8, 2024

    Thank you Bishop Susan for your heartfelt and compassionate letter to the Diocese about gun safety. We in the Diocese
    Gun Safety Working Group appreciate this very much.

    Sincerely,
    Ivy Conry

  3. Paul J Conry | on May 8, 2024

    Thank you for your heartfelt concern and efforts to bring awareness to the tragedy of gun violence affecting our country. The CDC has declared that firearm deaths continue to be a significant and growing public health problem in the United States. In 2023, there were 43,142 deaths related to gun violence including 24,090 firearm related suicides and 655 mass shootings, disproportionately affecting our young people, males, and Black communities. I appreciate your call to action and suggestions on how we all can help to bring awareness to the problem and help reduce gun violence, such as participating in National Gun Violence Awareness events like Wear Orange Sunday on June 9th, and declaring our congregations as Gun Free Zones.

  4. Constance Nyhan | on May 8, 2024

    Dear Bishop Snook,

    Thank you for your thoughtful Statement on Gun Violence and your support in advocating for gun safety. Please know that at St Margaret’s, we endeavor to educate our parish about nonviolence and gun safety, and will continue to do so going forward. We plan to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Sunday, on June 9, 2024, as we have done previously.

    Again, thank you.

    Connie Nyhan

  5. Paul J Conry | on May 9, 2024

    Thank you Bishop Susan for your heartfelt concern and efforts to bring awareness to the tragedy of gun violence affecting our country. The CDC has declared that firearm deaths continue to be a significant and growing public health problem in the United States. In 2023, there were 43,142 deaths related to gun violence including 24,090 firearm related suicides and 655 mass shootings, disproportionately affecting our young people, males, and Black communities. I appreciate your call to action and suggestions on how we all can help to bring awareness to the problem and help reduce gun violence, such as participating in National Gun Violence Awareness events like Wear Orange Sunday on June 9th, and declaring our congregations as Gun Free Zones.
    Sincerely, and In Peace. Paul Conry

  6. Erika Morgan | on May 10, 2024

    Dear Bishop Snook, I very much applaud your outrage and sorrow on this issue, as these losses continue and most of us feel very powerless to do anything except live in fear, for ourselves and our loved ones.

    One person who is standing up to do something, however, is San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer. Here is a part of the story, which has turned into a measure before the County. If you/ EDSD can support this measure in any tangible way, like carry it in the newsletter, for one, or maybe others, this is a very concrete step that can be taken to push back against gun violence in our County and communities.

    It seems I can’t add a link here, so the information is available on Supervisor Lawson-Remer’s website, at http://www.supervisorterralawsonremer.com This is a big iussue for her, she’s gotten common sense gun laws passed in the county already, and is now trying to plug a big loophole for ‘ghost guns’. I think supporting this action is a worthy path for EDSD. Thanks for your attention to this issue. Erika Morgan

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