In the wake of the shootings in Charleston, Bishop Rayford B. High, Jr., provisional bishop of Fort Worth, and Bishop J. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop-elect of Fort Worth, have issued a call to prayer, self-examination, and response.
Once again we awaken to news of another tragedy, this time the murders of nine people at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
This is a stark and clear reminder of the racism in our communities. As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our “bounden duty” to stand up against such evil forces whenever we encounter them, as individuals, as congregations, as communities. This senseless tragedy flies in the face of what it means to be an American and a Christian.
In the midst of our grief we, the current and future provisional bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, call us all to prayer, self-examination, and response.
Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the people of Emanuel. Pray for our African American sisters and brothers who are reeling in the wake of yet another assault on a black church, historically a target of racist terrorists. Pray for our country, where violence increasingly seems the first response in too many situations. Pray for the shooter, that he may be brought not only to justice, but to repentance and transformation of life.
Let us commit to a clear-eyed examination of the realities of racism in our communities, and of the ways our privilege as white people insulates us from so much. Let us ask ourselves if we in any way have contributed to the suspicion and fear of those different from us that feeds the sin of racism, and that is creating an increasingly polarized society. What things have we done or left undone? What things have we said or left unsaid?
Reflect on ways we can respond by developing conversations and reconciliation around issues of race. Let us commit ourselves to pursuing Jesus’ vision of peace for all people, and when we fall short, let us respond with a confession to our loving God and a recommitment to keep trying.
To aid in this process, we invite you to pray and reflect on this prayer, found on page 815 of the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., provisional bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop-elect, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth