From the Desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Texas elementary school shooting
May 25, 2022 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor's Note: Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, sent the following note to the Upper New York Conference on May 25 as a response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Again! Again, we are faced with senseless violence, murder, and destruction of any sense of normalcy. African Americans should not have to fear being shot going to the grocery store. Asian Americans should not have to fear being shot while at work. People should not have to worry about being shot while riding the subway, hanging out at a bistro, or going to church. Kids should not have to fear being gunned down at school.
Once again, we cry out to God and lift up the families and victims of Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We pray for those parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles, who had their precious loved ones, their children, violently taken away from them. We pray for the families of the teachers murdered. We offer healing prayers for those injured and in critical condition. We plead for God’s presence to be known in a community that has been turned upside down. We pray for the family of the gunman.
Our systems and our society must change! Laws must change! We must deal with racism! We must deal with gun violence! But even greater, we must deal with the disease of a culture that tolerates violence and hate too often, in too many forms. We must acknowledge and address a society that is becoming numb and a culture that is looking spiritually bankrupt.
As those who follow Jesus Christ, we know what we have witnessed repeatedly in our society is not God’s desire. We know there is a better way. The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims a different way. These are spiritual matters – these are matters of evil and darkness – these are matters of the heart. As the Church of Jesus Christ, let us encourage and demand that those responsible and positioned work for policy change. But let us not stop there or place our hope in that work alone.
As the Church of Jesus Christ, our hope is in the living God. As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s get serious about living out our call to flood a world in darkness with the light of the Gospel. Let’s be the peacemakers amid violence, taking the way of Jesus into the ways of the world. Let’s walk along those who have been victimized and those who have reached such a place of despair and brokenness that they become perpetrators, with mercy and compassion. Let’s call out injustice and sin by showing people another way – the way of following Jesus. Let’s get serious about being so contagious because of our hearts transformed by Jesus that those who encounter us will desire the same.
We must boldly speak against sin and injustice, but let us just as boldly proclaim the answer, the hope, the truth, the only solution for now and for all eternity – the one called Jesus! If the Church won’t invite the world to the one who changes hearts and transforms lives who will? If we place our faith for change in anything above Jesus, may God forgive us.,
Holy Spirit, Come! Holy God, change the hearts of your people! O God, may your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven!
In the Hope of Christ,
Mark J. Webb