Statement on St. Louis School Shooting
Yesterday, a teenage student and a teacher were killed and at least seven others were injured by a 19-year-old man who entered Central Visual and Performing Arts High School with a gun and more than a dozen, 30-round magazines. This event didn’t happen somewhere far away, but right in the backyard of the Missouri Annual Conference. Words of sadness scarcely touch the depth of grief families and friends are experiencing in the aftermath of such senseless violence.
In September, United Methodist bishops issued a Call to Prayer and Action to Response to Gun Violence. This call to prayer is not a shallow request but one that firmly believes that the collective prayers of God’s people will keep this issue in the forefront of our consciousness and guide our discernment of the actions needed to bring about change. Gun violence threatens our fundamental human right to life. Anyone can be affected by firearm violence, but statistics show that gun violence disproportionately impacts communities of color, women, children and other marginalized groups in our society. In the wake of Newtown, Parkland, Buffalo, Uvalde and countless other mass shootings, regardless of where you may stand on guns, I call on United Methodists in Missouri to stand against the violence occurring in our country. As United Methodists, let us support communities affected by the trauma of gun violence and walk alongside those who have been victims. Let us advocate for safer communities, safer schools and building bridges to beloved community.
News of yet another mass shooting can make us cynical, throwing up our hands that nothing can be done. Such tragedies can make us doubt God’s power and question God’s mercy. We point to the shadows cast by violence in our world as proof that God is not working in the world. But, because I believe in Jesus, I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. If God is with us, then he is with us even in those times and places where it seems that death and darkness have prevailed.
Light of the world, have mercy on us. Guide us in the way of peace.
Bishop Bob Farr, Missouri Episcopal Area