Many of you have heard me preach multiple times against government-enabled gun violence, and in support of common-sense gun laws. You have likely been in church when we have remembered victims of mass shootings by name, ringing out the Eldredge Chime for them. Like me, you have also probably shed many tears with each fresh and predictable horror. Perhaps you have also been encouraged by the students of Parkland, Florida, who are speaking out and organizing people of good will to witness against the cowardice and inaction of our elected officials in the wake of so many preventable and traumatic deaths. So I hope that you and many members of Grace Church will join me on Saturday, March 24 in the March for Our Lives event in Boston. We will meet at the Cathedral of St. Paul at 11:30 am. More details will follow. If you are interested in travelling to Washington, DC for the 3/24 event there, ECM is considering chartering a bus: you can express interest in that here.
Please read this statement from our bishops below. Also, you may take heart from this article, describing how The Episcopal Church was part of the shareholder action that led Dick’s Sporting Goods to modify its gun sales policy.
Passing even commonsense gun laws in our nation will likely be a long and difficult struggle. But we believe that perfect love casts out fear, and that with God, all things are possible.
The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts have jointly issued the following call, “From Lamentation to Action.” In it they urge solidarity in prayer on March 14, in response to a call for such from the Bishops United Against Gun Violence coalition, and they encourage participation locally and nationally in the March 24 “March For Our Lives.” Ways to be involved are listed below the bishops’ message.
From Lamentation to Action
A joint statement from the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
March 1, 2018
We have all had enough of our children dying in their classrooms. We have had enough of mass shootings in which a semi-automatic rifle was the weapon of choice.
They lurk in ambush in public squares
And in secret places they murder the innocent;
They spy out the helpless. (Psalm 10:8)
We have all had enough of the cycle of trauma, shock, anger, grief and numbness, fatigue and inaction. As followers of Jesus we have a two-fold mandate: lamentation and action. We must bring all of this to prayer for that is where we are held by the God who weeps with us. Prayer is the way we can come to some recognition and understanding of our complicity. It is the doorway to a transformed life.
As your bishops we join with Bishops United Against Gun Violence in designating Wednesday, March 14 as a Day of Lamentation for the lost and for the guilty, and to seek the transformation of our hearts. We ask you to gather in your congregations, or pause wherever you may be, at some time on that day, to weep, to mourn, to cry out to the God of justice.
We are grateful for and blessed by the initiative of young survivors of the recent Parkland, Florida, shooting who are leading the way in calling for the removal of weapons of war from our streets, and we thus encourage participation also in the March For Our Lives on Saturday, March 24. The mission statement on the event site reads as follows:
“March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to stop the epidemic of mass shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the 17 lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now.”
On March 24, many will make the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Many will travel to Boston. Still others will march in locally organized “sister” marches throughout our Commonwealth. It is our fervent prayer that these coordinated events will be effective in moving the leaders of our nation to enact common-sense gun safety measures to proactively address the security of our schools and public places, including reinstatement of an assault weapons ban.
The Episcopal Church stands with the brokenhearted. Let us pray together on March 14. Let us stand up on March 24. Let us move from lamentation to action for the sake of our children, for the soul of our nation and for the love of Jesus Christ.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop Diocesan, Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan, Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Massachusetts
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Ways to participate:
Wednesday, March 14
• In response to the call from Bishops United Against Gun Violence for unity in prayer on March 14, a Litany of Lamentations will be included as part of the 10 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist and the 12 p.m. Santa Misa at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston that day.
Liturgical resources collected by Bishops United Against Gun Violence for use in local services and observances are availablehere.
• Locally and around the country, many are calling for students, teachers and allies to take part in a National School Walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 killed in Parkland, Fla. Other types of walkouts also are being planned. Guidelines from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for College Admissions are available here as resources to students contemplating participation in local actions on March 14.
• For information on potential student actions in Boston on March 14, contact the Rev. Tim Crellin at St. Stephen’s Church in Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, March 24
• In Washington, D.C.: Episcopal City Mission is in the process of determining whether there is sufficient interest to book a charter bus to the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24. Find more information and register commitment here.
• In Massachusetts: In solidarity with those taking part in the Washington, D.C., March For Our Lives, more than 100 sister marches are taking shape in locations across the country, including Boston, Northampton, Springfield and Worcester. In Boston, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) will offer hospitality, respite and a gathering place on that day beginning at 10 a.m., in partnership with the Diocese of Massachusetts and its B-PEACE antiviolence campaign and Episcopal City Mission. Those interested in marching with other Episcopalians should plan to meet at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul by 11:30 a.m. Organizers also hope to offer space for youth-led trainings or other organizing activities, including a B-PEACE postcard-writing campaign to state and federal legislators, corporate decision-makers and other stakeholders. More details will be posted here as they emerge. For more information on activities at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston on March 24, or to offer help with planning, contact the Rev. H. Mark Smith at email@example.com.