Dear Friends in Christ,

Last night we heard again of another senseless act of violence, a hate crime that resulted in the death of the Rev. Clementa Pickney, pastor of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and seven members of the congregation. They were shot while they were gathered for bible study and prayer. I ask you to join me with Christians across Wisconsin and the nation in interceding for all those effected by this tragedy by offering this prayer from the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Gracious God, when there is no peace, not even in a house of worship, we pray for the violence in this land and the divisions in our lives. We pray for the grieving at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. And we lift our prayers for all of our AME brothers and sisters who are weeping this day. We pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

On Monday, I along with those you have elected as lay and clerical deputies, will travel to Salt Lake City for the 78th General Convention of our Episcopal Church. While I am there, I will be participating in a public witness sponsored by Bishops United against Gun Violence. My hope is that other members of our deputation will join me. The time is now to enact sane gun laws that both protect the rights of law abiding citizens to own firearms and keep them out of the hands of criminals. The best way to do that is through finger print background checks which are proven to reduce “straw man” purchases of weapons. (The purchase of weapons by someone with a clean record for someone who would be prevented from purchasing a weapon.) This is one small thing we can do to reduce the culture of violence in which we find ourselves.

There is, of course, so much more. Violence comes from so many places. Feelings of frustration and powerlessness, a desire to dominate, and unresolved anger are just a few of them. Addressing it begins by addressing the seeds of violence that live in each of us and the resolve to not let them germinate and grow. Perhaps now is the time, more than ever, to add to our daily prayers the Prayer of St. Francis, which begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Yours in the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

+Steven

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller

Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee