From the Desk of Bishop Webb: Prayers for Buffalo
May 14, 2022 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor’s Note: On the evening of May 14, 2022, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, sent the following letter to the Upper New York Conference after learning of the racially-motivated mass shooting that took place at a Tops market in Buffalo, earlier that evening.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I join with the people of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church in lifting our prayers for the families of 10 individuals shot in an act of senseless violence at a Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, NY. We also pray for the three individuals who were wounded in this attack. May the spirit of Christ deeply sustain them and this community in a moment of life that no one should have to experience or endure.
Whatever may have motivated the person responsible for this act of violence, in this immediate moment, we must lift those who are wounded and those who are mourning into the presence and heart of a God who abhors what we are witnessing and promises a better way. It is a moment to beg the Spirit of God to pour into the lives of these families and this community with an overflowing presence of grace, peace, and hope. It is a moment to beg God to transform us in a deeper way.
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we condemn hatred, injustice, and sin in all its forms. Violence against another whether with a gun or with another weapon is sin and we must stand against it. Violence motivated by racism, sexism, or any other “ism” which blinds us to our shared humanity is sin and we must stand against it. We must also not ignore the dilemma of a mental health crisis in our society and recommit ourselves to change that system for the better.
I am reminded and encouraged by the words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Love is stronger than hate. Light is stronger than darkness. Life is stronger than death. Victory is ours through Him who loved us.”
We stand against injustice and sin because we stand upon the foundation and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus defeats sin. We believe Jesus transforms hearts from hate to love. We believe Jesus moves people from violence to peace. Our human systems and institutions must change. Our responses to a broken and fallen world must change. Jesus is the transformer. Jesus is the only one who will ultimately change us and change the world. Jesus is the source of love, light, life, and victory. As the Church of Jesus Christ, let’s be the voice of the Gospel and the hands and feet of Christ in inviting others to a better way through the one named Jesus.
I’m grateful for our United Methodist congregations in the Buffalo area. Let us pray fervently for the pastors and members of those congregations as they take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into their community amid this horrific act.
In your mercy oh God, Heal Us! In your mercy oh God, Change Us! May your kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
In the Hope of Christ,
Mark J. Webb