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Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Bishop of Atlanta on the Nevada tragedy: Action must follow prayers

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:18am

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta] The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, bishop of Atlanta issued the following statement:

Brothers and Sisters.

In the aftermath of the horror of Las Vegas, I ask you to remember and pray for the souls of those who have died, including Mr. Paddock. I encourage you to seek the comfort we find in Christ Jesus. 

Holy Scripture reminds us that we are to “… rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” It is an important part of what makes us human. Even though Las Vegas is more than fifteen hundred miles from Georgia, we are nevertheless connected with the men and women struck down and the loved ones they left behind by our ability to empathize and have compassion.

So, we pray. We reach to God in familiar words to remember the dead and send our positive psychic and spiritual energy to those still in shock and who will grieve for years to come. But let us remember also, Jesus was a man of prayer and of action. Prayer must be prelude to action. Prayer with no corresponding action is a useless and vain exercise. Most importantly, prayer without action is not the faith Jesus practiced!

My sincere prayer is that the lives of those killed in Las Vegas will not be in vain. I still believe that America is a great country! I still believe we can accomplish great things together. I believe we can affirm the Second Amendment, protect the rights of hunters and sportsman and enact common sense gun laws that put into practice intelligent safety measures.

This is not a partisan sentiment. Morgues and cemeteries are not divided by political affiliation. And families do not cry red or blue tears. This is about coming to the realization that moments of silence and prayer will not, of themselves, make us safer. What will make us safer is ordinary people like you and I, from every political stripe, finding the courage to act.

Jesus often asked men and women he encountered, “What do you want?” I put his question to all of us, “What do you want”? I want an America where we are less afraid and more neighborly. An America where it is more difficult to get a semi-automatic weapon or high capacity magazines than it is to get a bottle of Sudafed. I want an America where special interests like the National Rifle Association don’t control our elected officials with campaign donations that render them spineless.

I want an America where law enforcement officers are better equipped to keep us safe than criminals are equipped to do us harm. These are not Democratic dreams or Republican dreams. This is an American dream that can save us from our present American nightmare.

What makes these kind of dreams a reality is when you and I, strengthened by prayer and our fellowship together, take seriously the words that we Episcopalians use to end our Eucharist:

… Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart. You are always in my thoughts and prayers, please let me be in yours.

Your brother,

Bishop Robert C. Wright

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

www.episcopalatlanta.org

Anglican primates’ discussions focus on evangelism and discipleship

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 2:53pm

Archbishop Moon Hing of South East Asia led his fellow Anglican primates on a Bible study on Jesus, the bread of life. Photo: ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] A discussion about evangelism and discipleship strategies amongst the leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 39 independent provinces was so lively, it continued through the lunch break, the archbishop of the Province of South East Asia said Oct. 4.

Archbishop Moon Hing, the bishop of West Malaysia, led a Bible study at the start of this morning’s session of the 2017 Primates Meeting before a general discussion on witness and evangelism. The archbishop chairs the international Anglican Witness group of mission leaders and practitioners, said that he was “very happy and very glad” about the discussions, saying: “I am really uplifted because we come back to the core issue and core subject of our existence: that is to make disciples for Jesus.”

In an interview for ACNS, the archbishop said that his Bible study was about “Jesus, the bread of life, who provides all our needs.” People who knew what it was to be a disciple “must be intentional to do it ourselves and to make it available and help others to walk with him. Even though we have this intention we need to have some ways to do it,” he said.

In what he described as “the best response” so far during this year’s Primates Meeting, “everybody contributed and shared how different facets of evangelism and discipleship can be done.” There was not just one method of evangelism, he said, “there are many ways, directly [and] indirectly to bring the message of Christ, that he is the bread of life, and that he is the answer,” to the world.

“There was a very lively atmosphere and everybody enjoyed it,” he said. “Even during lunchtime everybody talked about it. One of the primates said: ‘We should not be issue-driven, we should be discipleship-driven.’”

The discussion on evangelism and discipleship took place the day after Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis led the primates on a late-night candlelit tour of the cathedral. the archbishop described the prayerful walk as “fascinating.” The dean took the primates and some of the meeting’s support staff on a tour which took in the floor engraving of the Compass Rose, the symbol of the Anglican Communion, as well as the site of the martyrdom of 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, before concluding at the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs, which commemorates more recent Christian martyrs from around the world.

Anglican primates and support staff for the 2017 Primates’ Meeting are given a candlelit tour of Canterbury Cathedral by Dean Robert Willis.
Photo: ACNS

The archbishop said that the tour bought to mind “the early years when the cathedral began. . . We went to some of the memorable spots in the history of the cathedral, and especially the conflicts and places of sacrifice, where people gave their lives” where the primates reflected and heard from God.

“The greatest thing that I got impact on my life from last night’s tour was the faithfulness of God through all these years: that even though when we quarrel, we have conflicts, God has never given up on us; and every time we come back to him, he is always there. And he is ready every moment for us to come back and say ‘let’s walk together again with one another, with our neighbours and with him.’”

The archbishop is one of 16 new primates attending their first Primates Meeting, having been appointed or elected since the previous Primates Meeting in January 2016. “Before I came I read a lot of the social media and comments that it’s a waste of time.” he said. “But then when I come, I realised that all of us primates are actually very lonely. And it is really a good time to encourage one another.

“One of the primates was saying he was very encouraged that he knows that as a primate he is not alone, that so many of us can all come together and share,” he said. “He encouraged us to meet more regularly . . . for fellowship or times of encouragement.”

He said that through the Primates Meeting, there was a realization that “there is a whole bunch of us doing the same thing, and struggling the same way, and sometimes crying to him, calling up to him.

“We are not alone. There are others. And now we can connect with one another and we can actually build upon the strength of one another and strengthen the weaknesses of each other. That is wonderful.”

The Primates Meeting brings together the leaders of the 39 autonomous Anglican Churches. It is meeting this week in Canterbury Cathedral, England. After a half-day spiritual retreat on Oct. 2, the primates spent a day-and-a-half discussing “internal Communion matters” before moving on to three days of discussion of outward-facing issues, including evangelism and discipleship, climate change, religious freedom, and inter-religious dialogue.

More information about the primates and the Primates Meeting is here.

Church of South India pushes for gender-equal society

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 2:52pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Gender Conclave held by the Church of South India at its centre in Chennai was “another significant milestone in the journey towards a gender equal society beginning with the church,” the CSI said.  The conclave was one of a number of events held as part of the church’s 70th anniversary.

Read the entire article here.

Who are the primates and what is the Primates Meeting?

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 2:42pm

[Episcopal News Service] Primates are the senior archbishops and presiding bishops elected or appointed to lead each of the 39 autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion. They are invited to the Primates Meetings by the Archbishop of Canterbury to consult on theological, social and international issues.

The Anglican Communion Primates Meeting is one of the three instruments of communion, the other two being the Lambeth Conference of bishops and the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policymaking body. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as primus inter pares, or “first among equals,” is recognized as the focus of unity for the Anglican Communion.

Each province relates to other provinces within the Anglican Communion by being in full communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls the Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates and is president of the ACC.

In some Anglican provinces the primate is called archbishop or metropolitan, while in others the term presiding bishop – or as in Scotland, primus – is used.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also invites to the primates meetings the moderators who lead the united ecumenical churches of North India, South India and Pakistan.

In 1978 Archbishop Donald Coggan, the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury, established the Primates Meeting as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation.”

The primates have met in Ely, England, in 1979; Washington, D.C., in 1981; Limuru, Kenya, in 1983; Toronto, Canada, in 1986; Cyprus in 1989; Newcastle, Northern Ireland, in 1991; Cape Town, South Africa, in 1993; Windsor, England, in 1995; Jerusalem in 1997; Oporto, Portugal, in 2000; Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, North Carolina, in 2001; Canterbury, England, in 2002; Gramado, Brazil, in May 2003; London, England, in October 2003; Newry, Northern Ireland, in February 2005; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in February 2007; Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009; Dublin, Ireland, in January 2011; and Canterbury in January 2016.

The provinces and primates of the Anglican Communion are listed here.

Archbishop’s ‘profound sense of shame’ over church abuse failings

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:51am

Archbishop Justin Welby addresses journalists during the 2017 Primates Meeting. Photo: ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of his “profound sense of shame” over church-based abuse of children and vulnerable adults. Archbishop Justin Welby made the comments at a press briefing during the Primates Meeting in Canterbury Cathedral. He had been asked about planned visits to Canterbury by groups of survivors on Friday, who want to ensure that their concerns are heard by the church leaders gathered for the meeting.

Welby said that the “extent of the legacy of abuse” was “one of the surprises” he faced when he became archbishop in 2013.

“I feel that the church – and it is widely accepted within the church – that we have a long history of significant failure,” he said. “We should be held to a higher standard because we are Christians. We are a church.

“But it is also clear that the issue of abuse of children and vulnerable adults goes right through our society – almost all our major national institutions have failed in that regard. As I say, we should be at a higher standard and my profound sense of shame at what the church has done remains and is central to my thinking about this.”

The archbishop told journalists that he wakes up at night “thinking what was done to people and our failure to respond to it properly.”

The church, he said, had “a long way to go” but had made “progress in current terms” in its approach to safeguarding. He said that no organization could “ever afford to say . . . ‘that’s behind us.’”

He wanted to say to survivors of abuse: “We know we did wrong. We’re trying as hard as we can to get things right.”

He explained that he spoke regularly with the primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, about that church’s response to safeguarding, saying that “the Australian Church has done a lot of work on this.” A royal commission – a formal public inquiry – has recently been held in Australia to investigate institutional responses to child abuse. A statutory public inquiry – the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – is currently undertaking a similar investigation in England and Wales.

Welby said that “in response to discussions with survivors and seeing the need for it,” he had written to the British Home secretary – the current Prime Minister Theresa May – before IICSA was announced to call for a public inquiry and to urge “that the Church of England should be one of the first” organizations to be investigated.

Together, the Church of England and the Church in Wales, form “the Anglican Church strand” of the IICSA inquiry. Hearings in the Anglican strand are expected to begin early next year. A preliminary hearing is taking place Oct. 4 in London.

On its website, IICSA say: “the inquiry welcomed the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury for the inquiry to investigate, as a matter of priority, the sexual abuse of children within the Church. Allegations of child sexual abuse within the Church of England, the Church in Wales and other Anglican churches operating in England and Wales (‘the Anglican Church’) are matters of ongoing public concern.

“This investigation will assess the appropriateness of safeguarding and child protection policies and practices in the Anglican Church. It will consider the adequacy of the past cases review of the Church of England and the historic cases review of the Church in Wales.

“As a case study, we will consider the experience of the Diocese of Chichester, where there have been multiple allegations of sexual abuse and numerous investigations and reviews. We will also consider the case of Peter Ball, formerly bishop of Lewes and subsequently bishop of Gloucester, and investigate whether there were inappropriate attempts by people of prominence to interfere in the criminal justice process after he was first accused of child sexual offenses.”

Le Magazine Anglican : retour sur l’été 2017

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 4:05am

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

L’église mémoriale du Général Lee à Lexington, en Virginie a été débaptisée en septembre. Elle a retrouvé son nom d’origine de Grace Church. C’est la conséquence des affrontements meurtriers de Charlottesville qui ont marqué l’été 2017 aux États-Unis.

Le Magazine Anglican a retenu cet épisode dramatique pour son émission de rentrée qui nous fait revivre les moments graves ou joyeux qui ont émaillé l’été des anglicans.

À l’origine des affrontements de Charlottesville, la décision, d’une part d’enlever la statue du général Lee, général en chef de l’armée des états confédérés du Sud, lors de la guerre de sécession et d’autre part de changer le nom du parc de Charlottesville appelé jusque-là parc Lee.

Des heurts violents ont éclaté entre des groupes d’extrême droite, suprémacistes (qui militent en faveur de la supériorité des blancs), néo-nazis et Ku Klux Klan et des contre-manifestants antiracistes. Ils se sont soldés par la mort d’une jeune fille (délibérément fauchée par un conducteur d’extrême droite) et une quinzaine de blessés du côté des antiracistes.

Depuis 2015, le « Vestry » de l’église, aujourd’hui dénommée Grace Church, réfléchissait à un possible changement de nom, mais se heurtait à la difficulté que Lee avait été membre de l’église pendant cinq ans après la guerre de sécession et que sa réputation en tant que chrétien est inattaquable.

Cette réflexion allait de pair avec une résolution de la Convention Générale de l’Église épiscopale en 2015 pour retirer le drapeau Confédéré des églises.  Selon les termes de la résolution, cet emblème de la guerre civile était en contradiction avec la promesse de fidélité à l’amour et la réconciliation prônés par Jésus-Christ.

Une décision prise début septembre à la Cathédrale nationale de Washington a peut-être servi d’exemple.

Après avoir retiré, en 2015, la représentation du drapeau Confédéré sur ses vitraux, le Doyen et le Chapitre ont décidé le 6 septembre de retirer les vitraux représentant les deux généraux Confédérés, Lee et Jackson.

La décision a été hâtée par les événements de Charlottesville, car la Cathédrale n’en était qu‘à la moitié d’un processus de discernement qui devait durer deux ans.

Ce processus invitait la communauté paroissiale à réfléchir à : la justice raciale, l’héritage de l’esclavage et comment répondre à l’appel de Dieu au XXIe siècle.

Il dépassait donc le simple cas des vitraux ou plutôt les remettait dans le contexte social et spirituel actuel pour se poser la question : est-ce que ces vitaux installés en 1953, ont encore aujourd’hui leur place dans ce qui est le « home » spirituel de la nation.

Autre événement marquant de l’été pour les épiscopaliens, retenu par le Magazine Anglican, pour son émission de rentrée : la sortie en salles aux États-Unis, le 25 août, du film All Saints (Toussaint). Le scénario reprend l’histoire vraie de cette église qui allait fermer, faute de paroissiens.

C’est son nouveau recteur Michael Spurlock, nouvellement ordonné, qui était chargé de fermer l’église. Lorsque un groupe de réfugiés Karènes de Birmanie se présente à l’église, le père Michael va se sentir investi d’une nouvelle mission.

Membres de l’église anglicane de Birmanie avant d’émigrer aux Etats-Unis et conduits par leur leader Ye Win, ils viennent demander de l’aide à l’église épiscopale Toussaint, en proposant de cultiver les terres de l’église.

Le prêtre et les paroissiens vont accéder à cette demande, les produits agricoles seront vendus et généreront des revenus, puis de nouveaux services seront développés : le rêve américain à la dimension d’une paroisse. Un rêve qui est devenu réalité depuis, puisque, l’église compte aujourd’hui 300 paroissiens. Un bel exemple de la façon d’accueillir l’étranger.

Outre ces deux événements qui ont marqué l’été des épiscopaliens, le Magazine Anglican passe en revue, l’actualité estivale des anglicans sur le continent européen et dans la communion anglicane.

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

Le Magazine Anglican est diffusé, le 4e samedi du mois, à l’antenne parisienne de Fréquence Protestante. Via la radio numérique, chaque émission est accessible pendant six mois, aux auditeurs francophones d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Afrique et d’Océanie.

Animé depuis 2012, par Laurence Moachon, paroissienne de la Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité à Paris, le Magazine Anglican a pour objectif de mieux faire connaître la tradition anglicane / épiscopale.

Episcopal Peace Fellowship issues action alert: Host a Las Vegas vigil Oct. 4

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 6:00pm

[Episcopal Peace Fellowship]  Oct. 4 will be a National Day of Action to send #LoveToLasVegas when Donald Trump is expected to visit. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history deserves a strong unified response from those of us working to reduce gun violence in our country.

These vigils will honor the victims killed and injured with a strong message to #DemandAction to #EndGunViolence in our nation.

There will be anchor events in Washington D.C. and Las Vegas, with vigils taking place in churches, street corners and parks everywhere in between. Please open your churches, light some candles and host a vigil. Vigil bulletins created by Episcopal Peace Fellowship members are available on the fellowship’s liturgy resource page for you to adapt for your own use. 

Register your vigil so that folks can find it at this website.

And if you need any help at all, just message Episcopal Peace Fellowship on Facebook, and we’ll work with you. We’re in this together.

Oregon Bishop Michael Hanley posts statement on Las Vegas mass shooting

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 5:44pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Oregon]

From Bishop Michael Hanley:
So sad to once again wake up to the news of violence in America. Praying today for the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas. Praying for the families of those killed and for all whose lives are irrevocably changed by the actions of this individual. My heart goes out to all affected. The Lord help us.

Please see the comments for liturgical and action resources as well as an invitation to join in a public sign of mourning from Episcopalians Against Gun Violence.

(Via Facebook.)

California bishop posts a statement about Las Vegas mass shooting

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 5:34pm

[Diocese of California] With heavy hearts, the Diocese of California is praying for the many victims of last night’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. May we as a nation set aside our differences at this dark hour to comfort all those who mourn. May we also find the resolve to end, once and for all, the senseless epidemic of gun violence ravaging our country.

“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” – St. Francis of Assisi

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California

(Via Facebook)

Message from Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona – Las Vegas shooting

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 5:00pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Arizona]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I share with you the statement issued today by the Bishops Against Gun Violence, of which I am a member. It is a call to prayer, but also to action.

One small, symbolic action is to join in the bell ringing scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. our time. If this is too short of a notice, you might consider doing it another time tomorrow.  

Please know of my solidarity with all of you as we mourn the loss of our neighboring brothers and sisters in Nevada. I have been in personal contact with Bishop Edwards of Nevada, who appreciates our support at this time.

Statement from Bishops United Against Gun Violence  

Faithfully,

Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith

Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

A letter from Bishop Gutiérrez of Pennsylvania regarding the shootings in Las Vegas

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 4:48pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania] “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  – Romans 8:38-39

As a community we are sickened and horrified. There are times in life when you just cannot find the words. As we confront yet another wave of death and violence I simply cannot believe the pain. Collectively we are all asking ourselves “Why?” Why such rage? Why are so many dead? Why is our nation once again left in mourning?

We offer our prayers for the more than 50 killed, more than 400 wounded and all those affected by this horror. As we celebrate the Eucharist and Daily Office in our parishes we collectively offer our prayers and plead for God’s wisdom and guidance. We believe in the knowledge that God was with them as they left this earthly journey in pain, yet, this scourge of violence cannot, cannot, continue. When will we look at one another through the eyes of Jesus Christ so that we may truly become instruments of God’s peace?

As a people of God, we will offer our hourly prayers. But we must do more.

We must resist the urge to polarize the issue along lines of race, religion and politics and instead come together as a single church and a single nation. I am asking the people of this diocese to place aside our political divisions and find a way to come together as a community and live out the message of Jesus Christ to the world. As it is written in Ephesians 4:2-3 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

As a people of God, we will offer our daily prayers. But we must be prophets of peace.

So long as people look to solve their disagreements with violence this needs to be our single greatest priority. The violence that rained down upon the crowd in Las Vegas reflects the worst of the sin and brokenness of our human condition. I am asking that we devote a portion of our Diocesan Convention to re-commit ourselves to the work of diffusing violence in our hearts, in our community, our nation and indeed throughout our world, including the role that guns play in this problem. Only then can we truly live into our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.

I ask that we become voices of reconciliation in a hurting world. We seek to be the face of Christ to the world. For the next 30 days may we pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis. In addition to prayer, may we become prophets of peace. We need to pray we have the courage to confront evil in this world. I ask that the Diocese of Pennsylvania now become a place that engages the world in peace and encourages respect for the sanctity of human life. We will find a way to shine a light in the darkness in the name of Christ. We have no other choice.

Bishop Dan Edwards is having all the church bells toll in Las Vegas, and throughout the Diocese of Nevada, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. (Noon our time). We ask that our parishes in the Diocese of Pennsylvania do the same. Please toll the bells once for each fatality as the death count is reported at that time; at present it stands at 58.

In Christ, 

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez

XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Statement from St. Bart’s rector regarding the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 4:21pm

[St. Bart’s Episcopal Church – New York]

Dear Friends, 

As I begin this letter, I realize how many letters I’ve written to the people of God in the face of horrific events related to gun violence. Last night, at least 58 people were killed, and more than 500 were injured, while attending a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman, firing an automatic weapon from a hotel window, sprayed the crowd of 22,000 with bullets. 

It is one of the worst mass casualty incidents in U.S. history.

The letters I have written over the years have too many of the same components. Thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families. Profound thanks to the brave first responders who, in some cases, have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the innocent and care for the fallen. Recognition of persons who have exhibited extraordinary heroism. And finally, a plea for reasonable, sane, gun laws which do not eliminate gun ownership, but regulate the use of guns through registration and limit the civilian ownership of weapons designed for military use. 

By now, there is a familiar pattern to the exchange between the gun manufacturers’ lobbyists and those who advocate for stronger gun controls in the wake of these incidents. On the day of these shootings, and for several days afterwards, those opposing gun control will say, “Now is not the time to be discussing public policy or legislation. Now is not the time to discuss political responses.” Now, they argue, is a time for mourning to express our deep respect for the victims. 

But I can think of no more appropriate way to respect the victims of this grotesque act of mass violence than to speak candidly about the conditions which contributed to their deaths. No, we will never stop all gun-related deaths, and yes, there will always be people who seek to hurt and destroy others. But the number of gun-related deaths in our country has become as staggering as it is unacceptable. Here is an amazing fact:

“Since 1970 more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, murders, and accidents) than the sum total of all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history, back to the American Revolution.” [1]

It’s hard to believe, but here is a list of some of the mass shootings related to guns in the United States since late 2012:

  • July 12, 2016, Orlando, 50 dead, 53 injured.
  • July 7, 2016, Dallas, 5 dead.
  • December 2, 2015, San Bernardino, 14 dead, 17 injured.
  • November 27, 2015, Colorado Springs, 3 dead.
  • October 1, 2015, Roseburg, Oregon, 10 dead.
  • July 16, 2015, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 5 dead.
  • June 17, 2015, Charleston, South Carolina, 9 dead.
  • May 23, 2015, Isla Vista, California, 7 dead.
  • October 24, 2014, Marysville, Washington, 4 dead.
  • April 2, 2014, Killeen, Texas, 3 dead, 16 injured.
  • September 16, 2013, Washington, D.C., Navy Yards, 13 dead.
  • June 7, 2013, Santa Monica, California, 5 dead.
  • December 14, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut, 28 dead. [2]

There are a variety of causes for these tragedies, but they all have a common denominator: easily accessible firearms with little regulation. 

I invite you to offer your deepest prayers for those whose lives have been taken in this most recent tragedy. Pray for those who have lost husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends, sons and daughters. Pray for our legislators and public officials who form our public policies. 

I also invite you to write your elected representatives and make your voices as loud as the National Rifle Association’s voice. Let us make our voices as powerful as our prayers.

Faithfully,

The Right Reverend Dean Elliott Wolfe, D.D.

Rector of St. Bart’s Episcopal Church

New York, New York

[1] New York Times, October 2, 2017, Opinion Section, Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Vegas Strip Attack, by Nicholas Kristof

[2] New York Times, October 2, 2017, Top Stories Section, Mass Shootings in the U.S. by Julie Turkewitz

A letter from South Carolina Bishop Skip Adams on the Las Vegas massacre

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 4:11pm

[Episcopal Church of South Carolina]

Dear People of God of The Episcopal Church of South Carolina,

A pall of darkness and horror has once again fallen over our beloved country. In the massacre in Las Vegas we know as of this writing that 58 people have died and more than 500 have been injured. It was an unspeakable act of evil. Our hearts go out to all the victimized, including their families, as we hold them in prayer that somehow mercy and grace may be known to them. Many times this comes in the form of the first responders, pastors and medical personnel who tend to their needs. They need our prayer as well.

The Episcopal bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, and the people of the Episcopal Church there, will be right in the middle of the responses needed so that a word of love may be spoken in the midst of hatred and violence. Edwards has asked that the Episcopal Churches across Nevada toll their bells in mourning at 9 a.m. Pacific time Oct. 3, once each time for the number of those killed, including the perpetrator. I am asking that our churches in South Carolina who have bells to toll them at noon Eastern time on Oct. 3, to join in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Nevada.

In addition to our prayer, we must also act. We must find a way to be in conversation about the culture of violence sweeping our nation and engage in repentance for whatever ways we participate in that culture, even unwittingly. The nature of gun violence in particular, as we know, is wrapped up in issues of poverty, class, mental illness and race. A serious conversation leading us to enact reasonable gun laws must be had, and so far it has eluded us as a nation. Some of you are aware that I am one of the Episcopal bishops who join in a group called Bishops United Against Gun Violence, and I direct you to that website for information: bishopsagainstgunviolence.org. We ask hard but necessary questions such as: “Why, as early as this very week, is Congress likely to pass a bill making it easier to buy silencers, a piece of equipment that makes it more difficult for law enforcement officials to detect gunfire as shootings are unfolding?” “Why are assault weapons so easily available to civilian hands?”

Our goal must not be just better laws, however. We are about changing hearts and human transformation. We follow the Prince of Peace and name Jesus as Lord. We are about healing and wholeness, building bridges across lines of division and hostility. This is the work we must continue to do, work that participates with our prayer and longing for the healing of the nations.

Please join in the ringing of bells tomorrow as you are able. Do gather together in prayer wherever you may be at that time. I leave you with the familiar, but oh so beautiful, A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 833.)

Blessings, peace and love to you all,

Bishop Skip

(I am grateful to my sisters and brothers in Bishops United Against Gun Violence for the Inspiration for this letter.)

Archbishop Welby ‘taken aback’ by Las Vegas prayer criticism

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 3:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that he is “taken aback” by criticism of the decision to ask the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Curry prayed for the victims at the start of Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, England, on Oct. 3, the first day of the Primates Meeting.

The Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, canon for communications and media relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of GAFCON, said that the decision to invite Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service “put the GAFCON primates in a difficult spot.” He said that they were “forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together.”

Editor’s note: The term GAFCON, which stems from the Global Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem in 2008, brings together a group of disaffected Anglicans and former Episcopalians who cannot accept the decisions by some provinces to accept fully LGBTQI people in the life of the church.

Full article.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence statement on Las Vegas shooting

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 3:34pm

[Bishops United Against Gun Violence] We share in the grief and horror of people across our country and, indeed, around the world in the wake of last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. We have spoken with our Bishops United Against Gun Violence colleague and brother in Christ, Bishop Dan Edwards of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, and we have offered him and the people of Nevada our prayers and promises of assistance. We stand in solidarity with the diocese and the people of Nevada as they cope with this massacre.

It has become clichéd at moments such as these to offer thoughts and prayers. But as Christians, we must reflect upon the mass killings that unfold with such regularity in our country. And we must pray: for the victims, for their loved ones, for all who attended to the victims in the immediacy of the shooting, for the first responders who do so much to mitigate the awful effects of these shootings, and for the medical personnel who will labor for many days to save the wounded. We must also enter into the sorrow of those who are most deeply affected by our country’s cripplingly frequent outbursts of lethal gun violence. We must look into our own hearts and examine the ways in which we are culpable or complicit in the gun violence that surrounds us every day.

And then, having looked, we must act. As Christians, we are called to engage in the debates that shape how Americans live and die, especially when they die due to violence or neglect. Yet a probing conversation on issues of gun violence continues to elude us as a nation, and this failure is cause for repentance and for shame. It is entirely reasonable in the wake of mass killings perpetrated by murderers with assault weapons to ask lawmakers to remove such weapons from civilian hands. It is imperative to ask why, as early as this very week, Congress is likely to pass a bill making it easier to buy silencers, a piece of equipment that make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to detect gunfire as shootings are unfolding.

Even as we hold our lawmakers accountable, though, we must acknowledge that a comprehensive solution to gun violence, whether it comes in the form of mass shootings, street violence, domestic violence or suicide, will not simply be a matter of changing laws, but of changing lives. Our country is feasting on anger that fuels rage, alienation and loneliness. From the White House to the halls of Congress to our own towns and perhaps at our own tables, we nurse grudges and resentments rather than cultivating the respect, concern and affection that each of us owes to the other. The leaders who should be speaking to us of reconciliation and the justice that must precede it too often instead stoke flames of division and mistrust. We must, as a nation, embrace prayerful resistance before our worse impulses consume us.

We join with the people of God in fervent prayer that our country will honor those murdered and wounded in Las Vegas by joining in acts of repentance, healing, and public conversation about the gun violence that has ripped us apart, yet again.

On Tuesday, October 3 at 9 a. m. Pacific time, churches across the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada will toll their bells in mourning for the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas. Bishops United Against Gun Violence invites congregations across the country to toll their own bells in solidarity at the same time: 9 am Pacific/10 am Mountain/11 am Central/Noon Eastern. The number of times the bells are rung will be based on the number of dead as reported at that time including the perpetrator of the violence. Watch for updates on the Episcopalians Against Gun Violence Facebook page.

Global issues dominate Primates Meeting, as marriage equality still challenges communion

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 2:29pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry offers the opening prayers for Nevada during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral on Oct. 2. Photo: ACNS

[Episcopal News Service, Canterbury – England] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is joining most of his fellow Anglican primates – or senior church leaders – in Canterbury this week for a five-day meeting that focuses primarily on global issues of peace and justice, refugees, and environmental concerns. But the issue of marriage equality has taken up a significant portion of the opening two days.

The Scottish Episcopal Church on Oct. 3 agreed to accept certain “consequences” for voting earlier this year to allow same-sex marriage in church.

The primates, at its last gathering in January 2016, called for the same consequences to be applied to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. They asked that the Episcopal Church would, for a period of three years, “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and … not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity” on Anglican Communion bodies. That action came in response to the 2015 General Convention decision to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

In a similar move, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church last June voted in favor of allowing gay couples to marry in church. The vote means that the canon law will be changed to remove the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, which enables gay and lesbian Christians to be married in church. The change in canon law also will stipulate that members of clergy will not be required to solemnize a marriage against their conscience.

Bishop Mark Strange, primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said in a statement that the decision “was ours to take as a self-governing province of the Anglican Communion” but that he recognized it has caused “some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican Communion.”

Strange also recognized that the decision taken at the last Primates Meeting “to exclude our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church from debate on doctrine and from chairing Anglican Communion committees, is a decision that now also pertains to us. We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love.”

He explained that the process in Scotland had included “much prayer, theological debate, open and, at times, very personal testimony and that opportunity had been provided for groups throughout the church to discuss this matter and to pray about it; this included the voice of the youth in the church, the sharing of powerful words and stories from elderly members and hearing representation from those who hold a traditional understanding of marriage, those who see marriage as including same-gender couples and those who have encountered exclusion in declaring their love.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses media Oct. 3 during a press conference at the conclusion of the second day of the Primates Meeting. Photo: ACNS

During an Oct. 3 press conference, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that there “were a lot of expressions of disappointment” with Scotland’s decision, but that Strange had been “careful in expressing his recognition that this was going to lead to consequences in terms of not being able to play a role in ecumenical or leadership roles in the Anglican Communion … and that was in line with the decisions reached in January 2016.” Welby said that no formal vote was taken by the primates to ask the Scottish Episcopal Church to accept the consequences “as there was no need for one.”

At their January 2016 meeting, a majority of the primates requested action against the Episcopal Church, officially using the language of “consequences,” although some have argued that they are in fact “sanctions” with a different identity.

Three months later in April 2016, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion’s only official policymaking body, declined to endorse or take any action similar to the primates’ call for three years of so-called “consequences” for the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church’s three ACC members participated fully in the meeting.

Three primates – Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda, and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda – are not attending the Primates Meeting because of the developments in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Another three – Archbishop Sturdie Downs of Central America, Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya of Tanzania, and Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo of Myanmar – are missing the meeting due to a mixture of practical, health and internal country affairs, according to the Anglican Communion Office.

 

The primates in January 2016 also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to establish a task group “to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

The task group held its first meeting in September last year and reported back to the Primates during the first two days of the meeting in Canterbury. Curry is a member of the group.

Issues of human sexuality have dominated many of the Primates Meetings of the last 15 years. Although this gathering has begun by addressing recent provincial actions on marriage equality, the primates are now expected to turn their attention to other pressing global concerns that affect the 165 countries and 39 provinces the primates represent.

Curry has said that he hopes to talk about migration, immigration and refugees at the meeting, his second since becoming presiding bishop in 2015.

“Most of our countries are impacted by people who are fleeing wars and violence and injustices and in many of our countries extraordinary ministries are reaching out to help those who find themselves refugees,” Curry said in a recent video message. “In the Episcopal Church, that is true as well. Even now, young people who we call DREAMers, whose parents brought them here years ago … are frightened and fearful that they might have to leave this country. … Refugees are our brothers and sisters because one God created us. …We must help those who are our brothers and sisters and find themselves refugees.”

Curry’s message comes against a backdrop of a growing intolerance of refugees in the U.S. and at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has announced he intends to reduce the refugee admissions ceiling for the coming year to 45,000 persons, almost half the previous historic low of 85,000. Meanwhile, on Sept. 24, the Trump administration issued its third travel ban in less than a year aimed at blocking all refugees and travelers from eight mostly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

As the Canterbury meeting got underway with the tragic news of the shooting in Las Vegas, the primates gathered around Curry in prayer and solidarity, issuing a statement that called the weekend massacre “truly shocking.” The primates also invited Curry to offer the opening prayers during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral on Oct. 2.

In a video message published last week, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “We will miss those who are not there, miss them very much.”

And of the meeting itself, Welby said: “I am greatly looking forward to the Primates Meeting. It’s an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another.”

Who are the primates and what is the Primates Meeting?

Primates are the senior archbishops and presiding bishops elected or appointed to lead each of the 39 autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion. They are invited to the Primates Meetings by the Archbishop of Canterbury to consult on theological, social and international issues.

The Anglican Communion Primates Meeting is one of the three instruments of communion, the other two being the Lambeth Conference of bishops and the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policymaking body. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as primus inter pares, or “first among equals,” is recognized as the focus of unity for the Anglican Communion.

Each province relates to other provinces within the Anglican Communion by being in full communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls the Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates and is president of the ACC.

In some Anglican provinces the primate is called archbishop or metropolitan, while in others the term presiding bishop – or as in Scotland, primus – is used.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also invites to the primates meetings the moderators who lead the united ecumenical churches of North India, South India and Pakistan.

In 1978 Archbishop Donald Coggan, the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury, established the Primates Meeting as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation.”

The primates have met in Ely, England, in 1979; Washington, D.C., in 1981; Limuru, Kenya, in 1983; Toronto, Canada, in 1986; Cyprus in 1989; Newcastle, Northern Ireland, in 1991; Cape Town, South Africa, in 1993; Windsor, England, in 1995; Jerusalem in 1997; Oporto, Portugal, in 2000; Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, North Carolina, in 2001; Canterbury, England, in 2002; Gramado, Brazil, in May 2003; London, England, in October 2003; Newry, Northern Ireland, in February 2005; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in February 2007; Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009; Dublin, Ireland, in January 2011; and Canterbury in January 2016.

The provinces and primates of the Anglican Communion are listed here.

— Matthew Davies is advertising and web manager for the Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal churches across country toll bells for victims of Las Vegas massacre

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 11:46am

St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Wall Street will ring the Bell of Hope at noon, joining churches around the country in solidarity with the Diocese of Nevada and remembering those killed in Las Vegas over the weekend. Photo: Trinity Wall Street, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal churches across the country tolled bells simultaneously Oct. 3 in solidarity with the Diocese of Nevada and in memory of the victims of the mass shooting over the weekend in Las Vegas, which left 60 people dead, including the gunman.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 70 Episcopal bishops, issued the call for a nationwide bell tolling. Responding to Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards’ suggestion, the bells rang at 9 a.m. PT (10 a.m. MT, 11 a.m. CT and noon ET). Bishops United recommended tolling bells 60 times – for the 59 victims as of the most recent count and for the gunman, who killed himself after firing down from a hotel room on an outdoor country music concert.

Churches from New York to California pledged to join in tolling their bells.

Come at noon/St Paul’s Chapel as we ring the Bell of Hope in solidarity with the Diocese of Nevada, remembering those killed in Las Vegas. pic.twitter.com/ES6ojDGwdx

— Trinity Wall Street (@TrinityWallSt) October 3, 2017

A bell rings for each of the #LasVegasShooting #victims & a #candle is lit in their memory. Our service of lament begins. #Baltimore @EPFNational @iamepiscopalian @TheCrossLobby #episcopal @MomsDemand pic.twitter.com/7l0sjDuHhf

— Episcopal Maryland (@episcomd) October 3, 2017

An interfaith rally was held at Washington National Cathedral to remember the victims “while also urging a national conversation to end gun violence.” The cathedral offered a live video stream of that event on its Facebook page.

Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde said the cathedral’s Bourdon bell typically only is sounded at funerals and at national times of mourning.

“We gather in grief over the senseless bloodshed at a shooting last Sunday night in Las Vegas, and we gather with urgency,” Budde said outside the cathedral before the bell tolled 60 times. “We are people who minister to people affected by gun violence year after year. We are exhausted by the fact that this probing conversation on the issue of gun violence continues to elude us. This failure is a cause for repentance and shame.”

The shooting is the deadliest in modern U.S. history. Authorities say 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired down on the crowd from a room on the 32nd floor of nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, sending concertgoers fleeing. In addition to those killed, hundreds were injured. Paddock was found dead along with 23 rifles in his hotel suite, and 19 more firearms were found in his home.

Since the nighttime attack Oct. 1, Episcopal leaders have responded by offering prayers, support and calls to action.

“We are praying for the families and friends of those who have died and for the many people who have been wounded,” Anglican Communion’s primates said in a statement released from Canterbury, England, where they, including Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, are meeting.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, issued a statement saying “my heart broke once again” after learning of the latest mass shooting, and she cited a General Convention resolution supporting legislation to prevent more massacres.

“May we have the strength to put our words into actions so that the lawmakers who represent us in Washington, D.C., and in state capitols across the land will enact sensible legislation that can prevent guns from falling into the hands of people whose hearts are torn with hatred, violence, and despair,” she said.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence also issued a statement, saying Christians must act and “engage in the debates that shape how Americans live and die, especially when they die due to violence or neglect.”

In Las Vegas, Episcopal clergy members are helping to provide pastoral care for victims and emergency personnel, and the Diocese of Nevada will hold a memorial worship service at 7 p.m. Oct. 3. at Christ Church, the Episcopal church closest to the Las Vegas strip where the shooting happened.

Budde, who is a member of Bishops United, echoed the group’s written statement, saying it is “entirely reasonable” to seek legislative reform in the immediate wake of yet another mass shooting.

“Thoughts and prayers, while important, are insufficient,” she said. “In our tradition, the scriptures tell us that faith without works is dead. Prayers without actions mean little.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

 

Robin Dodge named as Rio Grande’s Canon for Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogue

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 6:37pm

Bishop Michael L. Vono, D.D., announces the appointment of Fr. Robin Dodge as Canon for Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogue for the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Fr. Dodge, who is the Rector of Church of the Holy Faith, Santa Fe, will be inducted as Canon during the opening Eucharist of the 65th Annual Convention of the Diocese of the Rio Grande on October 19 at All Saints Episcopal Church, El Paso. Also to be inducted at the Eucharist will be the Rev. Canon Patricia Soukup, who has been appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese.

The Rev. Robin D. Dodge was called to be Rector, following the untimely death of the Rev. Cn. Kenneth J.G. Semon. Bishop Vono celebrated the New Ministry of Fr. Dodge and Church of the Holy Faith following Diocesan Convention on Sunday, October 30, 2016, with a High Holy Mass.

Fr. Dodge grew up in Springfield, VT and received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1980, where he studied history with a particular focus England during the reign of the Tudors and Stuarts. He received a J.D. in 1983 from Boston University. As a lawyer, Fr. Robin practiced corporate law concentrating in trademarks, copyrights, and unfair competition, first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C., with Winston & Strawn (formerly Bishop, Cook, Purcell & Reynolds) and then Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti.

After more than ten years as a lawyer, and wrestling with a perceived call to ordained ministry while a parishioner at Church of Our Saviour in Chicago and Christ Church Georgetown, Fr. Robin entered Virginia Theological Seminary and was awarded an M.Div. in 1999. He was ordained deacon in 1998 and priest in 1999. Fr Robin spent more than three years as Associate Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA, before being appointed Associate Vicar of St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, England. Upon the Vicar’s departure in 2004, Fr. Robin served as priest-in-charge. In 2005 he was called to be Rector of St David’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., where he served until he was called to Holy Faith.

Since 1986 Robin has been married to Thérèse Saint-André, whom he met at coffee hour at Church of Our Saviour in Chicago. They have two sons, Cameron, age 24, a graduate of St. Albans School in Washington and the University of Virginia, who lives and works in Atlanta, and Barrett, age 21, who is pursuing vocational training.

Anglican primates offer prayers for Las Vegas as Episcopal leaders mobilize outreach efforts after massacre

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 3:52pm

FBI agents ride an armored vehicle to a staging area on Oct. 2 after a mass shooting during a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Las Vegas Sun via Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Leaders of the Anglican Communion called the weekend massacre in Las Vegas “truly shocking” in a statement released from Canterbury, England, by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, as faith leaders mobilize outreach efforts in the wake of the shooting, which killed at least 58 and injured hundreds more.

Clergy members in the Las Vegas area are providing pastoral care for victims and emergency personnel, memorial worship services are planned this week and a group of Episcopal bishops is organizing a nationwide effort to toll church bells Oct. 3 in memory of the dead.

“We are praying for the families and friends of those who have died and for the many people who have been wounded,” Curry said Oct. 2 in a video delivering the statement released by the primates, who are gathered in Canterbury. “We remember, too, everyone else caught up in this tragedy – including the emergency services (first responders). We pray that the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with the people of Las Vegas as they endure this trauma.”

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Guardian Angels is scheduled to host a prayer service for victims and their families at 5 p.m. Oct. 2, and the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada will hold a service at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Christ Church, the Episcopal church closest to the Las Vegas strip where the shooting happened.

Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards, who will preach at the Oct. 3 service, told Episcopal News Service by phone that his office reached out to the chaplain at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center to offer Episcopal clergy members to supplement the hospital’s own pastoral care. The diocese offered the same to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and other first responders. Edwards did not yet have information on how many Episcopal priests and deacons had volunteered.

And with authorities saying blood supplies are running low in the massacre’s aftermath, the Diocese of Nevada plans to include a call for blood donations in its communications to Episcopalians in the state.

“It’s heartbreaking for the victims and all those affected by this particular tragedy,” Edwards said. “It’s also heartbreaking for our society, that this keeps happening.”

News of the massacre developed overnight Oct. 1, and by morning it was clear the shooting at an outdoor country music concert was the deadliest in U.S. history. Authorities said the gunman fired down on the crowd from a 32th floor room in the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, sending concertgoers fleeing.

As of midday Oct. 2, the death toll was at 58, with an estimated 500 injured. The gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, later was found dead in the room, apparently after killing himself. Authorities also said he was found with more than 10 rifles.

President Donald Trump, speaking at the White House on Oct. 2, condemned the violence as “an act of pure evil” while quoting Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He also called for unity in the aftermath of tragedy.

“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one,” Trump said. “We call upon the bonds that unite us our faith our family and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community and the comfort of our common humanity. … It is our love that defines us today.”

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is calling on churches everywhere to toll their bells Oct. 3 at the same time, 9 a.m. PT (or noon ET) in solidarity. The number of bell tolls will mirror the number of dead reported at that time.

Edwards, a member of Bishops United, said there are no simple reasons that the United States continues to see so many mass shootings, though he added there is a compelling case for looking toward the availability of assault weapons and the ability to possess them in numbers beyond what would be needed for legitimate personal use.

He also pointed to the social problems of loneliness, isolation and disconnection, factors that he said are all too common in Nevada.

“It’s not the guns alone. It’s the veneration of violence in our society,” Edwards said. “Our societal embrace of violence as a response to any form of unhappiness is a very serious spiritual concern. The churches have the primary responsibility for converting America away from the veneration of violence back to the prince of peace.”

It was too early to say whether members of local Episcopal congregations were among the victims or their families, though Edwards said an Episcopal priest’s son was one of the police officers who responded to the scene. The priest stayed up into the early morning until hearing that his son was OK.

The Rev. Barry Vaughn, rector at Christ Church, has not yet heard of anyone else in his congregation affected by the massacre, but a message on the church Facebook page invited parishioners to call or stop by if they need to talk to someone.

“I think everyone is just stunned by it right now,” Vaughn told Episcopal News Service. “The best thing that we can do is to reach out and love people who are affected by it. This sort of thing, it’s like a natural disaster. It can’t be predicted.

“It comes out of nowhere, although it doesn’t exactly come out of nowhere,” Vaughn said, echoing Edwards’ concern about the prevalence of guns in American society.

Reaction and condolences have been pouring in from all corners of the church, from the primates meeting underway in London to former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who previously served as the bishop of the Diocese of Nevada.

“Prayers are ascending for all in the midst of this carnage at Mandalay Bay,” she said in an emailed statement. “When, oh when, will we begin to limit the availability of weapons of mass destruction and death?

“May the souls of all the departed rest in peace, may the injured find healing, may all the responders find courage and strength, and may all of us know that God is to be found even in the midst of this evil.”

Also on Oct. 2, Curry prayed during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral:  “We come to you tonight, Lord, with sorrow in our hearts for 58 of your children are no longer with us. And some 500 of your children are hurting physically and emotionally. And, one of your children took there life. They are all our sisters. They are all our brothers. They’re all your children.”

Bishops United Against Gun Violence issued a full statement on the massacre in the afternoon, offering prayers, but also a call to political action on the issue of gun violence.

“It is entirely reasonable in the wake of mass killings perpetrated by murderers with assault weapons to ask lawmakers to remove such weapons from civilian hands. It is imperative to ask why, as early as this very week,” the statement says, singling out bill nearing a vote in Congress that would make it easier to buy silencers for guns.

A group of the bishops spoke with Edwards in the morning by conference call, offering their support.

“We assured him of our prayers and then we offered him any assistance that we as bishops could provide to him or the diocese of Nevada as they attend pastorally or otherwise to the victims of this massacre,” said Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, one of the Bishops United conveners.

Douglas helped form Bishops United after the 2012 massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The group now totals more than 70 bishops, who have pushed for gun reform legislation to help prevent future mass shootings.

“We really need to take action with our legislators, both in our own states and in Washington, who are avoiding a conversation regarding the epidemic of gun violence in our nation,” Douglas told ENS. “We do believe that there are actions that we can take as a nation to curb this kind of gun violence, and as long as our government officials refuse to discuss safe and sane gun legislation, we will sadly continue to witness these kinds of massacres.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org

Coptic pope opens new Anglican media center

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 2:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new state-of-the-art media center for the Anglican Diocese of Egypt has been officially opened by Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The diocese is one of four in the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Read the entire story here.

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