A response to the El Paso and Dayton tragedies.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Anglican Church in North America:
I am writing to you on behalf of Archbishop Foley, our Primate, who is on vacation and sabbath time until September. He has asked me in my role as Dean of the Province to serve in an interim capacity for him. Together with our Deans (+Guernsey, +Atwood, and +Allen), we are working with our excellent provincial staff to address needs as they arise. It is in this capacity that we have felt led of the Lord to offer some words of sympathy, prayer, and direction as two cities in the U.S. where we have churches have experienced horrible tragedy.
Our hearts are saddened and grieved by the devastating shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. To all of our brothers and sisters in these cities, we offer our deepest condolences and prayers for your communities. Thankfully, to our knowledge so far, none of our Anglican Church in North America brothers and sisters were directly affected. Even so, there are some things that we can do:
First, keep praying for the victims and their families. I know many of us have already begun to do this in our worship. Yet, the emotional, physical, and spiritual collateral damage from the slaughter of innocent people is far reaching. Let us continue to remember the survivors in these suffering families before the Lord.
Second, those of us in the immediate vicinities can seek ways to offer the compassion of Christ. We give thanks for the churches that we have heard from that are offering pastoral support and grief counseling. One act of mercy many of us can do no matter where we live is to give blood.
Third, pray for God to give our political leaders His wisdom. Ask for their responses to be what will restrain evil without making good people more vulnerable to wickedness (Romans 13:3).
Four, allow the Holy Spirit to create a greater passion in our lives to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to change hearts and lives. The Prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (17:9). The same prophet said, “I will give them a heart to know Me . . . for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (24:7). Only our God can change a human heart from evil to a heart filled with the Holy Spirit. St. Paul wrote these words, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). He would know; he was once a murderer before he met Christ.
We have Good News for sad times. Jesus Christ “came not for the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Our Lord can turn hearts from hate to love. But we must witness to the transforming love of Jesus Christ more than ever before. How will people hear if we do not go?
May the Lord use the Anglican Church in North America to reach our hurting cities with the healing light of Jesus’ presence!
Dean of the Anglican Church in North America