From the Desk of Bishop Webb: Violence in our country
March 23, 2021 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor’s Note: In response to the recent Atlanta shootings and other acts of violence throughout our country the past week, Upper New York (UNY) Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb sent the following letter to the UNY Conference on March 23, 2021.
Last week, we witnessed the violent and senseless killing in Atlanta of eight individuals, six of whom were of Asian descent. Yesterday, the news reported another shooting in Boulder, Colorado that violently took 10 lives. Actually, in the days between the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, there were five additional acts of gun violence in California, Oregon, Texas, and Philadelphia.
We pray for the families of these victims as they mourn. We pray for those recovering from injuries. We pray for those first responders, giving thanks for their commitment to others and asking God to heal their mind and spirits.
We must continue to stand against all forms of violence in whatever form they take. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we know the good news of the Gospel transforms – it transforms lives, communities, and systems. May we continue to bold in our offering of Christ to the world, showing a different way than violence and hate. Let us continue to seek ways that work for change in systems within our society, with justice and peace being our aim.
While many conversations are occurring about the motive of the shooter, the reality is that violence destroyed innocent lives. The shooting in Atlanta also reminds us that too many times, sisters and brothers within the Asian community are subject to violence, harassment, and discrimination because of racism, prejudice, and bias.
We must continue to stand against the sin of racism and acts of violence in all forms, against all people. The elimination of racism is work that begins with me and all of us. Let us continue to boldly live our membership vows to “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and repent of our sin - accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression - and boldly confess Jesus Christ as Savior, putting our whole trust in his grace, as we promise to serve him as our Lord.” Let us invite others to join with us in that invitation and way of living
In Upper New York, we are blessed to have many Asian-Americans and members of the Asian community serve among us as pastors and worship with us as members of our congregations. These are gifted, beloved sisters and brothers in Christ. We acknowledge the vulnerability, anxiety, and fear that events like last week create in their lives. We pledge to stand beside them and with them. We pledge to demonstrate in word and action that they and all in our midst bear the image of God and our deeply loved.
Our world needs the truth and hope of Jesus! May God’s spirit move within us, among us, and through us. May God’s spirit transform our world.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Mark J. Webb