For Immediate Release
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San Diego Bishop Marches to End Gun Violence
SALT LAKE CITY — The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, will walk in a march with the Bishops Against Gun Violence (BAGV) on Sunday, June 28, 7:15 a.m. The march and rally are intended to encourage people of all faiths to work together to end gun violence. BAGV started when four Episcopal bishops came together with the desire to focus the Episcopal Church’s attention on the issue of gun violence. As BAGV planned the final details of the Utah march and rally, Dylan Roof shot and killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
“We are making a witness to Utah and indeed to the world that as people of faith, we need to claim common ground on gun violence,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, N.J., a founder of BAGV.
“We have not purged the demons of racism and prejudice,” Bishop Mathes of San Diego wrote in a statement sent to clergy and lay leaders on June 19. “And our love affair with violence and guns makes for a maddening and wicked mix.”
The Utah event, Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence, includes a prayerful procession between the Salt Palace Convention Center and Pioneer Park. A worship service will be held at the park, including prayers and testimony. The Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, and a survivor of gun violence, is among the planned speakers.
Bishop Hayashi was 19 years old and working at a record store in Tacoma, Washington, when he was shot during a robbery of the store. The robbers left with $9 and Bishop Hayashi barely escaped with his life. After multiple surgeries, and much physical therapy, he recovered from the gunshot wounds to his abdomen. Bishop Hayashi commented that “the scourge of racism has been compounded by an epidemic of gun violence.”
Bishop Mathes, a member of BAGV, remarked that nothing will change in this country “until we get rid of the guns and actually pay the price, as a nation, for what we have done to generations of African-Americans from the days of slavery until now.”
The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego joined churches across the nation in the ringing of church bells at noon on Friday to honor the lives of the nine people who died in Charleston and to pray for all victims of gun violence.
Claiming Common Ground is yet another instance of the Episcopal Church tackling difficult social issues head-on, according to Bishop Beckwith. “We’re making a witness and we intend to offer that up in prayer, hope, solidarity and peace,” he said.
The event occurs in the middle of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, which is held every three years and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. Approximately 10,000 will be in attendance. The convention comprises the house of bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the house of deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the church, at more than 800 members.
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The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is comprised of 47 congregations in the San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties and Yuma, Arizona. It is one of 108 dioceses of the international Episcopal Church. Since 1973 it has lived its mission to break down barriers and love fearlessly. More information is available at www.edsd.org.
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