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Mass Shooting In Florida
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A response to the mass shooting in Florida
Bishop Scott Mayer has issued this statement in the wake of the mass shooting in Florida.

Jesus is very clear in his charge that we are to value, love, and cherish children:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell  you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:2-6

Today, our nation’s children are crying out to us, the adults, in fear and grief and anger. They are challenging us to do perhaps the most important thing, the most primal thing any parent, any person, any nation should do for our children – keep them safe.

And their righteous anger toward us is deserved. We are failing them miserably. We failed them once again on Valentine's Day, which was also Ash Wednesday. News of yet another mass shooting from yet another school spread across our nation. This time fourteen children and three adults who tried to save some of them died. These were not generic children, generic people. They loved and were loved, they had dreams and aspirations. They were precious beyond knowing to the people who loved them, and now grieve for them.
  • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, a student at Stoneman Douglas and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer.
  • Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher killed as he tried to usher students back into his classroom when the shooting broke out.
  • Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, whose brother Miguel wrote, "He was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family. Most of all he was my baby brother."
  • Nicholas Dworet, 17, a senior, who had been recruited for the University of Indianapolis swim team and would have been an incoming freshman this fall.
  • Aaron Feis, 37, an assistant football coach who was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them from oncoming bullets.
  • Jaime Guttenberg, 14, whose father wrote, "My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister."
  • Chris Hixon, 49, the school's athletic director and a husband, father, and veteran who was described as caring for his students as if they were his own children.
  • Luke Hoyer, 15, whose family said, “Our Luke was a precious child."
  • Cara Loughran, 14, who danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida.
  • Gina Montalto, 14, a member of the winter guard on the school's marching band.
  • Joaquin Oliver, 17, who was born in Venezuela, moved to the United States when he was 3, and became a naturalized citizen in January 2017.
  • Alaina Petty, 14, who was a part of the "Helping Hands" program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of the junior ROTC at her school.
  • Meadow Pollack, 18, a senior who had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
  • Helena Ramsay, 17, who would have started college next year.
  • Alex Schachter, 14, who played baritone in the school marching band and trombone in the orchestra.
  • Carmen Schentrup, 16, a National Merit Scholar semifinalist and a leader in the youth group at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.
  • Peter Wang, 15, who was a member of the ROTC program.
Please hold them and their families in your prayers. But lest we feel the weight of a millstone around our neck, we must do much in addition to prayer.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, an organization of which I am a member, offers some actions to consider as well as resources for liturgies related to these recurring tragedies. I commend it to you.

Bishops United Urges Assault Weapons Ban, Prayers of Lamentation

The heart of our nation has been broken yet again by another mass shooting at an American school.

We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We mourn with particular sorrow Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old student at the school and leader in the youth group at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, who died at the hands of the gunman. We pledge to work with the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida to lend whatever material and spiritual comfort we can to all those who have suffered such a devastating loss.

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has been devalued by politicians whose prayers seem never to move them to act against their self-interests or the interests of the National Rifle Association. Yet, as Christians, we believe deeply in the power of prayer to console, to sustain and to heal, but also to make evident the work that God is calling us to do. We pray that all who have been touched by this violent act receive God’s healing and solace.

In the wake of this massacre, we believe God is calling us to understand that we must not simply identify the social and political impediments to ending these lethal spasms of violence in our country. We must reflect on and acknowledge our own complicity in the unjust systems that facilitate so many deaths, and, in accordance with the keeping of a holy Lent, repent and make reparations.

Specifically, we ask you, members of our church and those who ally yourselves with us, to:
  • Contact your elected representatives and ask them to support legislation banning assault weapons such as the AR-15, which is the gun used in most of the recent mass shootings in our country; high-capacity magazines; and bump stocks, the equipment used by the killer in the Las Vegas massacre that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire dozens of rounds in seconds. We understand that mass shootings account for a small percentage of the victims of gun violence; that far more people are killed by handguns than by any kind of rifle; that poverty, misogyny and racism contribute mightily to the violence in our society and that soaring rates of suicide remain a great unaddressed social challenge. And yet, the problem of gun violence is complex, and we must sometimes address it in small pieces if it is not to overwhelm us. So, please, call your members of Congress and insist that your voice be heard above those of the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists.
  • Participate in a service of a lamentation for the victims of the Parkland shooting and all victims of lethal gun violence. We will be announcing a schedule of such services at churches around the country in the near future. To keep up with these plans, please follow our Facebook page Episcopalians Against Gun Violence.
  • Enter into a period of discernment with us about how, through prayer, advocacy and action, we can make clear to our elected representatives that they must vote in the interests of all Americans, including law-abiding gun owners, in passing life-saving, common sense gun policies. Visit our website to learn more about our work and how to reach us. And if you plan to attend this summer’s General Convention in Austin, Texas, plan to join us each morning for prayer outside the convention hall and to attend the Bishops United Against Gun Violence public witness on Sunday, July 8 at 9 a.m.
Two years after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the life of Ben Wheeler, an active young member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, his father, David, asked parents to look at their children and then ask themselves, “Am I doing everything I can to keep them safe? Because the answer to that question, if we all answer honestly, clearly is no.” In memory of Carmen and Ben and all of God’s children lost to senseless gun violence, may God give us grace and fortitude in our witness so that we can, at last, answer yes.

Learn more here.
Copyright © 2018 Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, All rights reserved.

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