The Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas, writes to the members of his diocese:
Like so many of you, I was shocked and saddened by the multiple shootings that took place in Newton and Hesston on Thursday. I was spending the night in Wichita and was only about 30 minutes from where the shootings took place. Four people were killed, including the shooter, and 14 others were wounded, 10 critically. I was still thinking about the senseless deaths in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last week by a random shooter, and now there is news of another multiple homicide shooting in Belfair, Washington.
The 2014 shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park still remain very much in my mind, and we must ask the obvious question: When will this senseless violence stop? When will we find the resources to care properly for those who are mentally ill in our society? When will we find the willpower to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have access to them? When will we break the grip that gun manufacturers and their lobbyists have on our city governments and state legislatures?
The movement toward “more guns everywhere” clearly is not making us safer. Dodge City at the height of the Wild West had more effective gun control laws than we currently enjoy. Guns in bars, guns on college campuses, guns in church, are creating an unsafe environment.
It is too simple to suggest that greater access to weapons contributed to this particular tragic episode. But in cultures where there is more limited access to high-capacity, military-grade weapons, there are fewer mass shootings. It really is within our power to create safer communities for our families.
Jesus said the peacemakers in a society are “blessed.” May we continue to find ways of making peace and working toward reducing the violence in our culture.
I urge all congregations to include this prayer in their worship tomorrow, with thanks to the Reverend George Wiley, our Canon Pastor, for composing it.
Our God, creator of life and author of peace, we turn to you in shock at new violence in our country; we turn to you in grief for our brothers and sisters killed or wounded in Hesston; we turn to you in perplexity about eruptions of hatred and murder. We turn to you because you are our safety, our rock, our light in darkness. You know all that is marred and bent in us and in our world. So finally we turn to you in hope: bring good out of evil; comfort those in agony; and through the power of your Holy Spirit, fill us and this world with life and concord; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.