As I write, 18 children and one teacher have been reported dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas after yet another school shooting. The anguish, trauma, and fear of students, parents, and teachers touched by this violence is unimaginable. Today’s shooting affects young children, who have the right to grow up safe and protected in their schools. Our hearts break for the innocence lost, the precious lives that will never be lived, and the families who will likely experience overwhelming grief for years to come. It’s almost impossible to overstate the sorrow that many of us feel in knowing that our country has experienced yet another horrifying act of violence, this time against children.
Only last week, I issued a statement lamenting the deaths of people in the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York, an act of violence motivated by racial hatred. In that statement, I said:
As followers of Jesus, we are heartbroken and in anguish for these latest acts of senseless and unspeakable violence. And so, we pray. We pray for the eleven dead and their loved ones, we pray for the wounded and their families, we pray for the witnesses and the survivors, we pray for the first responders, we pray for the officials who must deal with the aftermath, we pray for the people of Buffalo, New York and Laguna Woods, California, we pray for the perpetrator and his family, and we pray for this nation.
Now we add prayers for the people of Uvalde, Texas, whose lives will never be the same.
But, as I said last week, as followers of Jesus, we also know that prayer—while critically needed—is not enough on its own. We who do our best to follow Jesus’s command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and who recognize that Jesus said that the smallest and weakest among us should be our highest priority, should work and advocate to protect the vulnerable.
Of course, our Constitution allows Americans to keep and bear arms. But I believe that reasonable regulation of firearms would go far to protect innocent children from the violence that seems so rampant in our society. Bishops United Against Gun Violence (BUAGV), a group of Episcopal bishops of which I am a member, suggests limitations such as:
A number of resources for learning and prayer can be found on BUAGV’s website.
In addition to addressing the responsible use of firearms, I believe our country needs to address the community crisis that leads so many people to commit such horrifying acts of violence. The plague of gun violence is a peculiarly American phenomenon. I believe we must build stronger communities that discover and help people who are tempted to violence before their temptations are put into action. I am proud of the work done by many of our churches to support children and families, as well as Episcopal organizations such as our diocese’s Episcopal Community Services, which works so hard to improve the lives of children, adults, those with addictions and mental illnesses, and those without homes in our community. May our church always support healing and reconciliation in our community, supporting all persons to become stronger and more whole, and giving them the help they need to flourish, as we follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. May all Christians work always for healthy and safe communities for all God’s people.
I invite you to pray with me now, in a prayer that is partly adapted from “A Prayer for our Nation in the Midst of Mass Shootings” on the BUAGV website:
Almighty and most merciful God, we come to you with heavy hearts and troubled minds after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We bring before you all the children and adults who are innocent victims of this senseless and malicious act of evil. May the souls of all these innocent victims, through God’s mercy, find eternal safety and rest. We pray for all who are hospitalized, some still in critical condition. We lift all families who are facing grief and turmoil, and we place them into your loving arms. Please support parents who face inconsolable grief, as well as teachers and students who are traumatized by what they experienced.
We give thanks for all first responders, especially the police officers who risked their lives as they intervened to save lives. We praise you for the provision of medical specialists in the times and places where they were most needed. We bring before you the leaders of the cities and towns who will gather citizens together for peace, unity and strength.
We implore your divine help, O God, for our nation at this time. We pray that law enforcement officials will have the resources they need to protect, and to remain vigilant. We pray for our legislators to commit to sensible policies and laws regarding the ownership and use of guns, and that they also will provide resources for better mental health diagnosis and treatment. We pray that our President will provide compassionate and clear leadership to heal our national soul.
Finally, we pray for people who are tempted to inflict such harm on others. We pray for perfect mercy and justice and, for those who still are alive, for repentance. We ask you to bring healing and a new heart to any person who might be contemplating such acts in the future, so that all may live in safety and security. We pray in particular for children, the smallest and most vulnerable among us, that they may be protected and grow up in safety and security. We ask you to bring peace, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace. Amen.
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11 replies to “Enough is Enough: A Statement on the Shooting in Uvalde, TX”
Dear Bishop Susan,
Let me tell you that my heart and may soul are broken for this horrible crime happens in our small community in Texas. Your words bring me hope and faith that we most to change and act now against this evil and systematic violence that kills innocent people.
Thanks for your prayers and words.
God bless you.
Thank you Bishop Susan for your message. It inspires us to pray and to act. My hope is that we can do what is needed to make all our lives safer. My prayer includes having the wisdom to choose to preserve life. My hope is that those who value the life of the unborn could share that value for those who walk with them – especially the children.
Thank you for this thoughtful, prayerful and action-driven message.
Thank you for your heartfelt and beautiful message and prayer, Bishop Brown.
Like many, I, too, am saddened and distraught by the events you mentioned and that seem so prevalent in the US.
My personal feelings are that this needs to be stopped. The ONLY reason for a gun is to kill someone or some animal. And don’t tell me it’s just for target practice because you are just getting better so you can shoot someone or some animal. You don’t need a semi-automatic rifle to kill a deer!
This country has too many guns. You may say that it’s mental health that causes the horrific shootings, but if guns were not so available, those with mental issues wouldn’t be able to murder so many at one time.
You are right, Bishop Brown, “enough is enough”!
Thank you for this prayer as I have been speechless as to this horrendous tragedy, again!
Yes, enough is enough! anyone can get a gun now a days and innocent lives pay the consequences.
Dear Bishop Susan, thank you for your prayers. Our hearts were very heavy, still, from the Buffalo shooting, and now, feeling the worst devastation from yesterday’s shooting, I am left without words for prayer–only that our Congress must, finally, establish laws to stop the sale of assault weapons, along with passing funds for more resources in all states, to identify and treat, mental illness. —
We can’t imagine the shock and pain of the parents, children, and all the community of Ulveda,TX. We must put our prayers to work—at the ballot box for starters. Your prayer will remind me, we all share this, unbelievably, sad time together and with God’s help, we can make progress in making all of us safer.
Sincerely, and prayerfully, Connie McIntire, St. Andrews, Encinitas
Please send this letter to our representatives from the EDSD.
a beautiful response to a horrific week of senseless tragedy, thank you
Thank you for your thoughtful, faithful response to this, another terrible mass shooting in our country. I am involved with the Living Without Fear ministry of St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert, and gun violence has been a focus of ours since we began as a response to the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015. It is hard not to lose heart when we face the loss of these latest innocent lives, and I wonder if we as a country can ever change our will and our commitment to safety over partisan debates. I have checked the Bishops United website several times over the years for information, but unfortunately have found it not very helpful or current. I hope renewed attention will improve this important resource.
What a horrible tragedy of these young and innocent children. Thank you for this very comforting prayer. May their souls Rest In Peace and their families and community find solace.