The letters below are from The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and The Rt. Reverend Sean W. Rowe, Bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
I’m here in Des Moines, Iowa at the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. It’s Saturday, and several hours ago you learned, as did we all, that a gunman entered Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. A number of people have been killed and wounded. Our Jewish neighbors, our brothers and sisters, are fearful and we must stand with them and provide comfort and support for them and for all. It is reported that the gunman not only ranted anti-Semitic sayings, he has also ranted and spoken against immigrants and refugees and other peoples.
We must pray, we must pray for him, we must pray for the spirit of our nation, that a spirit of love and compassion and goodness and decency would pervade, and that spirits of hatred and bigotry would be cast away. But, above all, at this time, pray for those who have died and for their families and their loved ones. Pray for those who are wounded. Pray for the first responders, pray for our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community. Pray for the Tree of Life synagogue. Pray for the City of Pittsburgh. Pray for America. Pray for us all.
And then, go out and do something. Do something that helps to end the long night and helps to bring in the daylight. Visit a neighbor. Remind our Jewish brothers and sisters that they do not stand alone. Care for someone. Love. Stand for what is right and good. Then pray. And then act.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Dear People of God in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania: On hearing the news that a number of people had been murdered during Saturday morning services at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by a gunman shouting anti-Semitic statements, my friend Elizabeth Drescher took to Twitter, where she offered these verses from Psalm 55:My heart is in anguish within me,the terrors of death have fallen upon me.Fear and trembling come upon me,and horror overwhelms me.
The words of the psalmist-indeed, any words-are inadequate to express my deep grief and condolences to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and to Jewish people across the country who are reeling from this hate-filled attack on peaceful people at prayer. There is no place in our churches, our communities, or our country for anti-Semitism.
The verses speak not only to this latest mass shooting, but also to the reality of our daily lives in a time of increasing ideological and partisan violence. Earlier this week, a gunman shot two black shoppers at a Kroger’s near Louisville, but did not shoot a white man, to whom he said, “Whites don’t shoot whites.” News of this outrage competed for airtime with another, as pipe bombs were mailed to prominent critics of President Trump.
My friends in Christ, we are in the grip of a spiritual sickness. This illness manifests itself in our debased civil discourse, which is rife with charge and countercharge but lacks individuals willing to take responsibility for the violence their rhetoric spawns. It makes itself known both in the massacres of innocent people and the cowardice of a Congress unwilling even to consider legislation that would keep weapons such as the AR-15 used in today’s shooting out of the hands of hate-filled ideologues. And while the sickness demeans and endangers every one of us, it presents a particular threat to religious, racial, ethnic and sexual minorities whose lives are held cheap by those whom reckless politicians and pundits incite.In circumstances such as these the church has a mission: to comfort the afflicted, to sow seeds of peace, and to advocate for justice. In prayerful humility, let us be about it. Faithfully,