Texas School Shooting: Staff Respond with Prayer, Suggested Action

Texas School Shooting: Staff Respond with Prayer, Suggested Action

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The Southern New England Conference staff responded to the news of 20 children being shot and killed in an elementary school in Texas yesterday with words of lament, words of prayer - and suggestions for how to act both out of love and out of a desire for justice.

"If you are like me, you are torn," said Executive Conference Minister The Rev. Darrell Goodwin in a video message. "You're torn today between a sense of feeling numb, then maybe you're feeling lamentation and grief. And maybe on the other end, this sense of righteous anger about 'how are we here again?' We were just holding the devastation of what occurred in Buffalo, New York, and the loss of more black and brown life in this country and now we're holding our siblings in Texas, as they're waking up, yet again, struggling with loss, loss of young people, the loss of staff, senselessly and unnecessarily."

"I offer those buckets and maybe you're all of them at the same time, or maybe they change from hour to hour because this is a place where we don't have the right words," he said. "I invite you, if you're in the space of numbness, sit there. Take that in. Understand what that means for you. If you're in the place of grief, then please cry. Please wail, please allow the intensity of this reality to show up in you however it needs to. And my God, if you are at a place that you're ready to act, then get the pen, start writing the letters, start combining with the people all around you and then discern for yourselves what the deliberative action that you're being called and compelled by your faith to engage in is pushing you toward."

In another message, Rev. Emma Brewer-Wallin, Minister for Environmental and Economic Justice, and Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly, Area Conference Minister, spoke about how to respond to the shootings both from a place of love and from a desire for justice.

"As Rev. Goodwin said, some of us are numb. Some of us are grieving. Some of us are burning to do something. And many of us are all three," said Rev Garrigan-Byerly. "Our faith asks us to live the love and justice of Jesus. And so we want to share with you some of the tangible ways to do that following the Uvalde massacre."

"First, love. Be attentive to the children and families and educators in your congregations. This weekend, reach out to them, show them your love. Be mindful of how you talk and pray about traumatic experiences in their presence. We are especially mindful that there are those within the Conference for whom the memory of an elementary school shooting is particularly personal and painful. And then reach out with love beyond your church community. Write personalized cards, or create prayer flags, for the staff at the local schools in your community. Express your care and support of them, offer your gratitude for all the care they provide the children and pray for their wholeness and wellbeing."

Rev. Brewer-Wallin then talked about potential ways of engaging in advocacy.

"Justice in the wake of gun violence means doing everything in our power to help prevent that violence from happening again," she said. "While mass shootings like the ones that occurred yesterday in Texas and a week ago in New York are ones that particularly capture the nation's attention and break our hearts, we know that gun violence occurs far more often in people's homes through acts of domestic violence and suicide."

"As you are called, I invite you to join in taking legislative action, contacting your elected officials, to let them know that your heart is breaking and that you are asking for stricter gun control laws. Although we here in the Southern New England states have some of the stronger gun control laws in this country, we know that even this is not enough. Contacting your elected officials is a way to let them know what is on your heart. And it is a way to thank them for the good work that many of them are already doing and have been doing for years," she said.

Brewer-Wallin has compiled a list of pending legislation, and information on how to contact legislators, here:  www.sneucc.org/gun-violence.  This page also includes some upcoming actions, including a May 31 demonstration at the Rhode Island Statehouse.

"As we continue to lift up our individual prayers for the victims of this shooting and for their families and for their whole community, and as we continue to come together as church communities to lift up our prayers together, I invite you to also consider how you as a community might be called to take action, to live the love and justice of Jesus, which surely now more than ever our communities need," she said.

Author

tiffany-new-cropped.jpg
Tiffany Vail

Tiffany is the Director of Media and Communications for the Southern New England Conference. 

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