Bishop’s Statement on Gun Violence

August 5, 2019

Dear Colleagues and Sisters and Brothers of The Diocese of San Joaquin

I am aware that last Sunday in some of our local Faith Communities orange was the liturgical color of choice. For those of you who may not be aware, orange is the color encouraged by the Episcopal Church expressing our concern regarding and our movement towards eradicating gun violence in our country. And so, last Sunday, orange was a response to the acts of terrorism, the hate crimes in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in addition to the other 250 mass shootings which have occurred in the US this year. So for some, orange stoles were worn. For others, orange was used as a personal profile on Facebook Pages. And for all of us, I trust, prayers were said, earnest, sincere prayers for this madness to end. And I’ve heard for others still, plans are underway for local ecumenical and community vigils, that is, a public witness against racism and gun violence. Clearly voices are crying out, “Enough is enough.”

The outcry about which I write is the growing phenomenon of gun violence in our country and the tragic corollary with the growing acts of hate crimes against people of color. So we, Sisters and Brothers, must have conversations in our local communities regarding racism and gun violence. And these conversations must not, I repeat, must not, have anything to do with Red or Blue. These conversations must involve what we say in our baptismal covenant. They must reflect the ways in which we are Called to be… And, these conversations must point directly to how we are to live into this Jesus Movement and the Way of Love.

Now, it is right and proper and holy that we wear orange stoles, display orange on our Facebook Pages and hold vigils; these are all important forms of public witness. And, we must do more. The more about which I speak is not only a natural extension of our prayers, it is, I would submit, prayer itself. And so I ask that we, each person in the Diocese of San Joaquin (and those who wish to join us) individually and collectively, to write our local, state and federal legislators and to say, “Enough is enough.” We need urgent sound, sensible and safe gun legislation. And we need it now! Equally, as persuasion occurs in numbers, I suggest that we contact ecumenical partners in our local communities and other organizations inviting them to do the same. Please, for God’s sake and our own, don’t hesitate, act now!

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