Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last week, I once again turned on the television and learned a child of God was shot and killed on the streets of Philadelphia. It seems that every morning, the same story replays. The only difference is the name and the location. The outcome is the same – violence on our streets. The instances and issues of violence in our community are overwhelming. However, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania is called to step forth and address this evil plaguing our city.
I understand this is a complex issue that is part of larger issues. We cannot sit silently or act as if it is someone else’s problem. If one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. Everyone in our community is valuable to this world and this Church. I do not know how or in what form we will move forward, however, we must begin the discussion. We can release balloons, create makeshift memorials, hold prayer vigils, or demand the government “do something.”
It seems there is no resolve, to the anger, despair, and avoidance that this type of violence causes in our lives and community. However, we must be that change; we must seek that resolution. As a church, as apprentices of Christ, we must step forward in some way to approach this evil epidemic. We must be that Holy Voice in the world. It must begin in our churches, in our homes, in our outreach, and in our lives. We are called to ask the hard questions concerning gun violence, poverty, drug addiction, unemployment, incarceration, and marginalization.
I request a time of discernment, advisement, and collaboration. We must address these symptomatic and systemic issues from a theological and Christian perspective. In the next few weeks, I will seek and formulate a body that will pray, discern, plan and give concrete proposals to our governing bodies. Then we will put into action our prayers. We need to touch the pain in a way that is truly transformative. We must reclaim the voice of the church in the world, and this is one step toward realizing the Kingdom of God.
The Right Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutierrez
XVI Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania