Dear all,

I don’t have any new words in the face of another horrific school shooting, especially one that comes on the heels of the white supremacist attack in Buffalo two weeks ago. So let me offer you words from others in our Church. Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a group of over “100 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives.” (Bishop Sutton and Bishop Ihloff, our bishops here in MD, are both members.) They offer liturgical, educational, spiritual, and advocacy resources to combat the evils of poverty, racism, and violence.  Below is a series of prayers (adapted) remembering people who have been affected by gun violence, around our country and here in Baltimore.

If you are looking for ways to respond at this time, the Episcopal Public Policy Network has a variety of advocacy resources available. On their Action Alerts page you can find a template of a letter you can email to your senators (though calling and leaving a voicemail is even better!) about expanding background checks. Organizations like Baltimore Ceasefire 365 work to promote peace here in Baltimore, with quarterly Ceasefire Weekends and community events.

Yesterday, May 25, was the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. The work of preventing gun violence is connected to movements for racial justice and equality: the work of each is to bring about a world where all people can flourish, without fear of harm, no matter who they are, fully alive. As we pray for God’s kingdom to come, let us remember that we are part of its realization and revelation. May our prayers drive us to actions of love, made stronger by our God whose power, working in us and with us and through us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.


Remembering All Who Have Been Affected By Gun Violence

(Adapted from A Moral Call: a Vermont Interfaith Prayer and Remembrance Vigil, December 15, 2015 and June 1, 2020 Bishops United Against Gun Violence)

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of the victims of gun violence, both those who have been injured and those who have been killed, in Uvalde, Texas and in Buffalo, New York; in cities and towns across our country, and close to home in Baltimore. We hold their memories dear. We treasure those lives permanently altered through injury or those taken in senseless acts of violence, and we pray that they might find rest and peace. May their lives continue to make a difference in our world.

Together we pray.

All: God of Mercy, heal our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of the families and friends of the victims of gun violence in our nation and in Baltimore. Comfort those who mourn. Dry the tears of those who weep. Sustain those who feel diminished. Impart courage to the hearts of those who feel helpless.

Together we pray.

All: God of Peace, sustain our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of all communities torn apart by gun violence. We are too familiar with places like Parkland and Orlando, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbine and Aurora, Colorado; El Paso, Texas; Newtown, Connecticut; Charleston, South Carolina; and the neighborhoods of our own city. Each incident of violence affects all of us in our daily lives and work. Renew our resolve to pursue peace in our cities and towns and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

Together we pray.

All: God of Comfort, encourage our broken hearts.

 Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of school teachers and administrators who put their students’ needs ahead of their own safety. We pray for security guards and first responders, including police, fire and rescue personnel who witness the horror of gun violence while in service to our communities, and we pray for all those with responsibility for law enforcement. We give thanks for the call to protect and serve and to seek justice, and we pray that their emotional wounds will be healed.

Together we pray.

All: God of Courage, inspire our broken hearts.

 Leader: We raise our prayers for those lives taken by gun violence through suicide, and also for those lives taken through accidental shootings, especially when those shootings involve children. Console and strengthen those whose despair is great.

Together we pray.

 All: God of Hope, comfort our broken hearts.

 Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of all people impacted by gun violence, as gun violence knows no boundaries but can affect all peoples; it can affect us where we live, where we worship, where we work, where we study, and where we play. We especially pray for communities that live in fear of hatred and harm, targeted for who they are, that they may see the coming of your kingdom of justice, love, and peace.

Together we pray.

All: God of Love, transform our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers for those who have committed acts of gun violence and for their families, in our nation and especially here in Baltimore. We remember those suffering from mental illness who have gone untreated, and those suffering from loneliness and isolation. We recognize and condemn the scourge of hatred and racism that too often leads to acts of violence. We pray for those who would use guns, power, and violence rather than respect and dignity to reconcile differences. Grant us the strength to pursue justice with a voice of love.

Together we pray.

All: God of Forgiveness, enlighten our broken hearts.

 Leader: We raise our prayers for all community leaders and elected officials. Give them insight, wisdom, and courage to address head on the epidemic of gun violence. Give them fortitude and courage to stand for peace and justice, shoring up abundant life in our communities rather than coveting profit or power. Prevent their discouragement in the face of frustration or failure. Pour forth your Spirit on all our neighborhoods and break the chains of violence that bind your people.

All: God of Power, strengthen our broken hearts.

Leader: We pray today for ourselves and for others in our lives who have been touched by gun violence. During the silent pause, I invite you to offer the names (either silently or aloud) of those for whom you pray.


Together we pray.

All: God of Astonishing Mercy, Compassion and Immeasurable Love, restore our broken hearts and enliven our confidence to find new ways to revive our world to become one of peace. Amen