Dear friends in Christ:
By now you are aware that last night a shooter entered St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, killing two children of God and injuring a third.
Even as I write, I am on the way to the commemoration of the nine who were martyred in 2015 at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The plague of gun violence in the United States affects us all, and now it has affected a congregation in The Episcopal Church.
We join together in prayer with Bishop Glenda Curry, Bishop Brian Prior, the clergy and people of St. Stephen’s, and the whole Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. I want to encourage us as a church to offer special prayers this Sunday for those affected by the shooting at St. Stephen’s—and for all victims of gun violence.
I commend to you the website of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, which has prayers, liturgical resources, and many other kinds of information.
As the prophet Isaiah wrote:
Do not fear, for I am with you,Isaiah 41:10
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
I invite you to join me in prayer:
Eternal God of love, we know that you do not willingly inflict pain upon or grieve your children, and your dream for all is life abundant.
We come to you now in sorrow and sadness at the death and violence inflicted on our siblings of St. Stephen’s Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Receive the souls of those who have died. Grant them peace in your arms of love. Be with those who are injured and suffer, those who are grieving, and those who are frightened and dispirited. Help us as a nation to find ways to bring an end to this scourge of violence, which hurts your children and our human family. Give us the strength we need, the courage we must have, and the faith in you that will see us through. All this we pray and ask in the name of the prince of peace—your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church