Dear Diocesan Family,
I write to you in deep grief. Yesterday, the community of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama experienced a horror that houses of worship fear: a shooting during a time of fellowship. This plague of gun violence has infiltrated all aspects of our lives: schools, medical centers, shopping centers, churches and other houses of worship, airports, and the list continues. It is evil, it is inhumane, it is absolutely devastating, and it is not of God.
I have been in contact with Bishop Glenda Curry and have assured her that our diocese is holding the community of St. Stephen’s and the entire Diocese of Alabama in our prayers.
During these times in which we are feeling profound grief and helplessness, we must remind ourselves that we need to rely on sustained prayer to inform our actions.
I offer to you the Bishops United Against Gun Violence’s website, which has several liturgical and community-based resources. I also offer you the Lift Every Voice Oregon Initiative Petition 17, which will focus on reducing gun violence by making gun owners safer and ammunition less lethal. You can read the petition here, and you can sign the petition at home and/or help to gather other signatures here.
I hope there will be more resources created and disbursed around The Episcopal Church regarding active shooter preparedness. For now, we have gathered some resources for your congregations and communities to help establish a plan in the hopes it will never be needed.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry urges every faith community to include St. Stephen’s and the Diocese of Alabama in our prayers this Sunday.
Yours in Christ,
A prayer from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Eternal God of love, we know that you do not willingly inflict pain upon or grieve your children, and your dream for all is life abundant.
We come to you now in sorrow and sadness at the death and violence inflicted on our siblings of St. Stephen’s Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Receive the souls of those who have died. Grant them peace in your arms of love. Be with those who are injured and suffer, those who are grieving, and those who are frightened and dispirited. Help us as a nation to find ways to bring an end to this scourge of violence, which hurts your children and our human family.
Give us the strength we need, the courage we must have, and the faith in you that will see us through. All this we pray and ask in the name of the prince of peace—your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
You can read Presiding Bishop Curry’s full message here.
Resources for Active Shooter Preparedness:
- As a congregation, you can reach out to a local fire department and police department for an evaluation and help establish an exit and emergency plan.
- Trauma Informed Oregon (LINK)
- The Oregon Department of Administrative Services’ Guide to Controlling Risk – Active Shooter Preparedness (LINK)
- Portland Police Department’s Community Active Shooter Preparedness video (LINK) and slides (LINK)
From the government:
- Department of Homeland Security’s Safety for Faith-based Events and Houses of Worship (LINK)
- The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency – Active Shooter Preparedness workshops, webinars, and resources (LINK)
- Department of Homeland Security’s quick reference guide for how to respond to an active shooter (LINK)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Active Shooter Resource page (LINK)
From within The Episcopal Church: