Bishops and organizations within the Episcopal Church have called for action in the aftermath of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“We commend the victims of the shootings in Orlando to your prayers and the prayers of your parish. But prayer alone is not enough,” said the Rt. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, the Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, and the Rt. Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, bishops of the Diocese of New York, in a statement published June 13. “Now is the time to reach out in grace and power, and in brotherhood and sisterhood with the larger community of which our churches are a part.”
The bishops said they worry about the frequency of these acts and the numbness that their repetition creates: “We worry as well at the language of division and distrust, of racism and homophobia and Islamophobia, and of the demonizing of the stranger at the gate, which has characterized the rhetoric of some in the current election season.
“It seems that something essential to our common life is slipping away; that some essential thread of the fabric of our country is unraveling.”
Episcopal Peace Fellowship has called for a specific action beyond prayer: supporting President Barack Obama’s call to end sales of assault weapons in the United States.
“Episcopal Peace Fellowship holds all victims of the Pulse massacre in prayer, while urging our membership toward action,” said the Rev. Allison Sandlin Liles, EPF’s executive director, in a statement.
“Assault rifles have no place in civilian society and EPF calls our members to contact legislators, imploring them to pass sensible gun laws such as an assault weapons ban, universal background checks on all private sales and legislation preventing suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns,” she said.
The shooting at Pulse was also deadliest single attack on LGBT people in U.S. history, eclipsing arson at the UpStairs Longue in New Orleans on June 24, 1973, that left 32 people dead.
Bishop Gene Robinson, chaplain to EPF’s executive committee, said, “This is a wakeup call that the LGBT community remains vulnerable to bias and hatred, and that despite progress in achieving marriage equality, the necessary, reconciling work of changing hearts and minds continues.”
Episcopal parishes continue to hold vigils in memory of the victims at Pulse. In the Diocese of Central Florida, 10 parishes will gather today to pray. They’re joined by parishes in the dioceses of Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Bethlehem, and others throughout the country.