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Message from Bishop Beckwith in response to the Charleston shooting

Nine votive candles representing Charleston shooting victims

Dear members of the Diocese of Newark,

Like many of us, my spirit is shaken and my heart is leaden in the aftermath of the slaughter of nine lives at historic Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When mental illness (which seems to be the case here), fueled by racism (which most certainly is the case), joins together with the possession of guns, the result is a toxic combination that inevitably produces tragedy.

In a conference call this afternoon with Bishops United Against Gun Violence, we agreed that we would ask our churches to ring bells on Friday, June 19, for ten minutes at noon, local time. We also agreed to honor the request of Bishop Charles Von Rosenberg, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, in whose diocese the Emmanuel Church murders occurred; and invite people to pray the Prayer attributed to St. Francis at noon – and as often as our wounded souls require:

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 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 dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 833.)

We are people of hope and peace. Especially in the face of violence and despair. Several churches in the diocese are hosting vigils of hope. There will be a gathering of peace in the city of Newark on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. in front of the Lincoln statue near the court house. We have been reaching across denominational lines to offer prayer and support for one another.

God needs our help to heal the brokenness and sin of the world.

+Mark Beckwith