A Letter from Bishop Mariann about Uvalde

by | May 26, 2022

Jesus said, “Weep not for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. . .”
Luke 23:28

Dear Friends in the Diocese of Washington,

As we take in the horror of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and pray God’s mercy for all those who have been lost, wounded, and those who are grieving, we are understandably heartsick and weary. Since the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14, there have been 15 other incidents where 3 or more people have been killed or wounded by gun violence across the country. As in the racially inspired shootings in Buffalo, the magnitude of tragedy in Uvalde is compounded by the youth of the perpetrator.

Listening on the news to family members of previous mass shootings describe the agony they know lies ahead for the people of Uvalde, I saw in my mind’s eyes the families from Newtown, Connecticut who travel to Washington, DC each year to advocate for stricter gun laws, including a ban on the assault-style weapons that killed their children in 2012, hundreds of other people since then, and now the children of Uvalde. The grief never goes away, they tell us. As one father said on television, “There is no ‘moving on;’ there is only moving forward.

While the causes of gun violence are many, the common denominator in all of them is easy access to lethal weapons. Until we have the courage to put the same boundaries on firearms that we place on every other high-risk product in this country, we can expect gun deaths to continue in mass shootings, between individuals, and through suicide.

Bishop Michael Curry concluded his pastoral letter after the mass shooting in Buffalo two weeks ago with this exhortation: Even amid tragedy, even when manifestations of evil threaten to overwhelm, let us hold fast to the good. It is the only way that leads to life. As you gather with friends and family, and in worship on Sunday, pray for the strength to hold fast to the good. Yet we must also strive for good, and as citizens demand that more can be done to protect our elders, our young people, and our children from such horror.

To assist you in worship, we’ve collected a few prayers below, including one drafted by the Bishop of West Texas, David Reed, two litanies for after a mass shootings, and others. There is also a wealth of resources on the webpage of Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

For those of you with children and young people in our care, here are two resources to help you through the difficult conversations about what they hear on the news. Reading through these pages, they struck me as holding wise counsel for all our conversations in this tender time.

I know that many of you are holding or participating in prayer vigils and community gatherings in response to the killings. Thank you. For my part, I continue to pray and to advocate for legislation to address this national crisis as I did today with Dean Hollerith and others on the Cathedral grounds.

On Friday, June 3rd, I will join a group of faith leaders to pray at the Capitol on Friday and to urge passage of the gun violence prevention measures that are currently stalled in Congress. Afterwards, we will process to Washington City Church of the Brethren, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, for a public gathering of remembrance and public demonstration of how guns can be transformed into garden tools. If you’d like to join me for the procession and service, please let me know.

May God’s strength and mercy sustain us all.


Bishop Mariann

A Prayer for Uvalde
The Right Rev. David Reed, Bishop of West Texas

O God our Father, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust your beloved children of Uvalde to your everlasting care and love, and bring them fully into your heavenly kingdom. Pour out your grace and loving-kindness on all who grieve; surround them with your love; and restore their trust in your goodness. We lift up to you our weary, wounded souls and ask you to send your Holy Spirit to take away the anger and violence that infects our hearts, and make us instruments of your peace and children of the light. In the Name of Christ who is our hope, we pray. Amen.

A Prayer by Alden Solovy Addressing the Covid-19 Pandemic
Adapted by Reuben Varghese to Address the Gun Violence Epidemic

God of Consolation
Surely you count in heaven,
Just as we count here on earth,
In shock and in sorrow,
The souls sent back to You,
The dead from this violent epidemic,
As the ones become tens,
The tens become hundreds,
The hundreds become thousands,
The thousands become ten-thousands
And then hundred-thousands,
Each soul, a heartbreak,
Each soul, a life denied.
God of wisdom,
Surely in the halls of divine justice
You are assembling the courts,
Calling witnesses to testify,
To proclaim
The compassion of some
And the callousness of others
As we’ve struggled to cope.
The souls taken too soon,
Whose funerals were premature,
Who didn’t need to die,
Who died alone,
Will tell their stories
When You judge
Our triumphs
And our failures
In these hours of need.
God of healing,
Bless those who stand in service to humanity.
Bless those who grieve.
Bless the dead,
So that their souls are bound up in the bond of life eternal.
And grant those still afflicted
By this disease or trauma
A completed and lasting healing,
Until suffering ceases,
And we can stop counting the dead,
In heaven And on earth. Amen.

A Litany in the Wake of Gun Violence
The Reverend Michele Morgan, rector of St. Mark’s, Capitol Hill

God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially our President, our Governor, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God,

People: Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders, for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the nightclubs and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims. For our siblings who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God,

People: Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope. For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God,

People: Make us instruments of your peace.

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 this year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care. For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone, Loving God,

People: Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. For your dream of love and harmony, Loving God,

People: Make us instruments of your peace.

FINALLY, help us to turn out as voters and activists to take our anger and change the world so that others may live.

Weeping with Uvalde
The Rev. Maria A. Kane, Ph.D., rector of St. Paul’s, Waldorf

God of our weary years,
Death has gutted us and left us reeling…once again.
Mass violence has thrust the people of Uvalde into an unrelenting abyss of grief.
Instead of planning last-day-of-school parties, parents and loves ones must now plan funerals.

It shouldn’t be this way.
It shouldn’t be this way.
It just shouldn’t be this way.

But it is.

Our words fail us.
Our tears drench us.
Our rage consumes us.
Our weariness overwhelms us.

May our sorrow become fuel for compassion; our cynicism a catalyst for honest reflection; and, our rage a drive for holy action, that tools of violence may give way to pathways of peace.

O God, long after the cameras have moved on, may your fierce love and tenderness steady the feeble knees and shattered hearts of those whose lives have been forever changed.

In the name of Jesus, whose love for children knew no bounds and whose heart now weeps in agony, we cry out…and then we work to repair the breach.