A MESSAGE FROM BISHOP HOLLINGSWORTH
AND THE REV. ROSALIND HUGHES REGARDING GUN VIOLENCE
April 17, 2023
Dear colleagues and friends,
Gun violence is nonpartisan and nondiscriminatory. Its victims and perpetrators, alike, are young and old; black, brown, and white; inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientation; not specific to one political party or philosophy. Gun violence shows no partiality. It occurs in schools, workplaces, churches, public venues, and private homes. It is both self-inflicted and inflicted on others. Its only common denominator is that it involves firearms in the hands of people who should not have access to them.
In our Diocese, state, and country, the right to have and carry firearms is more highly valued than the right to go to school in safety, to work in safety, to worship in safety, even to go home in safety. As a nation, we are approaching 150 mass shootings in 2023 alone. The heartache of gun violence is felt every day by ever-increasing numbers of families and communities. Yet, tragically, gun ownership, use, and safety have become so politicized and polarizing that even engaging in conversation about it feels to many people to be unsafe.
Given that polarization, there are no easy answers to resolving this deadly pandemic. Progress will only come with a cost to everyone. We cannot insist on getting get our way and expect change. That is why we pray, “Thy will be done.” One thing, however, is certain: if we do not find ways to talk about it, it will only get worse. All the power of evil ever wants is to keep us from working together. It is the only way that it protects division and death. It is the only way it wins.
Faith communities and faithful people have a critically important role to play in this. We put a high priority on caring for others at our own expense; on building relationships across diverse experience and perspectives, in order to make us all more whole; and on learning what it is we need to sacrifice, in order make possible what God is dreaming for us.
Last year, the Diocese provided to any congregation that requested them, copies of the Rev. Rosalind Hughes’s book, Whom Shall I Fear, a handbook for addressing difficult conversations about guns and gun violence. This year, we are able to provide Rosalind as a parochial and diocesan resource and consultant, available to any congregation or group of communicants wishing to explore constructive ways of moving toward safe, open conversations and programmatic activities addressing gun violence and our complicity in it. She is representing Bishop-elect Anne and me on provincial and church-wide efforts, including Bishops United Against Gun Violence, and is available to each of you as together we work toward a safer world for all of God’s beloved.
Please see Rosalind’s message below and contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440.865.0499.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
Dear friends in Christ,
Against all worldly reason, this is a season of resurrection. While on Friday, all seemed lost, and Saturday was set aside for grieving, now we awaken to a new embodiment of what it is to be followers of Jesus, to whom all is never lost.
As Christians, we celebrate the impossible boundlessness of mercy.
God knows, we need such encouragement in these days, when gun violence surrounds us in the news and in our neighborhoods, and we know the trauma of our people who worry for their schoolchildren and grandchildren, and for themselves. We worry, too.
We know, we have seen, too, that the way of the Cross is not an easy fix, yet it is our hope and our call. And, it addresses with enduring grace our culture of violence and defensiveness, our divisions and despair, and our longing for an end to lamentation.
As the Body of Christ, we are drawn together to remember that with God, nothing will be impossible.
So many of you are already doing what is needed in your communities and congregations to make the pilgrimage toward peace. You are praying, which is where we all begin and end; you are supporting survivors; you are putting pressure on local leaders to take action to save lives; you are inspiring others to the work; you are following in the way of the Cross, sure of its saving power.
I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you are doing, what you dream of doing, and how I might be able to find you help and encouragement along the way. I’d love to hear what you want me to do for you, for us, for the sake of Christ. I am deeply grateful to Bishop Hollingsworth for the invitation to lean further into this work to relieve the pressure of gun violence upon us and all of God’s people.
While I will be waiting for you emails or calls, I will also be reaching out to all of you, encouraging you to sign up for regular updates on our work together. I’ll try to share ways to continue to counter gun violence, its causes, and its repercussions, such as this invitation from the Fellowship of Reconciliation to sign a letter to President Biden, asking him “to declare this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2023, to be a national day of repentance, mourning, prayer, and reflection to address the culture of gun violence that is staining our collective soul.”
I will be praying for us all, that Christ will lead us in all humility through this valley full of death toward the new light of resurrection.
bISHOPs & fATHER MIKE