Brothers and sisters,
My heart breaks at the news of two more incidents of mass shootings in our nation this weekend. Last night I attended a prayer vigil for the victims of gun violence held at Grace-St. Luke’s. Episcopalians gathered to pray together, cry together and support one another. It was good to be with our diocesan family in these difficult days.
During the vigil, a young woman who recently fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher broke down in tears as she described facilitating a mass shooting drill with her young students where they huddled in the closet of her classroom. That young woman’s pain touched me in a profound way. As the spiritual leader of our diocese, I want to do more than complain. I believe Jesus Christ calls us to be part of the solution whenever our neighbors are suffering, including the grieving families of the 22 people killed in the Walmart in El Pasco, Texas, and the 10 people killed in the Oregon District of downtown Dayton, Ohio.
Today I sent letters to our governor, our US senators and the 2 US congressmen who represent West Tennessee. I offered to meet with each of them to discuss how faith leaders can be involved in the efforts to address gun violence. I am also going to join Bishops Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 80 Episcopal bishops who not only pray when mass shootings occur but who are also committed to advocacy and action. To learn more about this organization, please visit Bishops Against Gun Violence.
I ask for your continued prayers as we discern how our diocese can take steps to be part of the solution. May the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee
692 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38105