THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has spoken of a “time of great pain and turmoil for us as a country” after the recent shooting incidents in America.
Bishop Curry was responding to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St Paul, Minnesota, and the subsequent attack on police officers in Dallas, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of five police officers and the injuring of seven others.
The shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota sparked protests around the country — including in Dallas, where the police officers were attacked. The protesters, under the banner “Black Lives Matter”, say that black people are more likely than white people to be shot and killed by police officers.
“In the last few days, we have seen acts of violence in which children of God have been killed in Dallas, in Louisiana, in Minnesota,” Bishop Curry said in a video message. “this has been going on for a while before our very eyes, where children of God have been killed.
“The holy scripture reminds us in the very first chapter of Genesis that all people have been created in the likeness and image of God. We are, therefore, children of God, created in God’s image and likeness. And we are all — all of us as human beings — of infinite value and worth and dignity.
“The loss of any human life is a tragedy for us all. Injustice or wrong done to anyone — regardless of who they are — is an injustice and wrong done to us all. We who follow Jesus, we who are people of faith, we who are people of goodwill and decency — whoever we are — know that we can and must find a better way — for we are all children of God, and brothers and sisters of one another.”
He called on the Episcopal Church to pray over this past weekend “for ourselves and our loved ones”, and also “for our country and our culture; to pray that we will find a better way that honours all of us as children of God”.
Bishop Curry has also called for a “national conversation” within the country to find “a way that allows all of us in this country to be the children of God and accorded the respect and honour that is due all of us as God’s children”.
The Presiding Bishop filmed the video in Toronto, where he was attending the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Bishop of Dallas, the Rt Revd George Sumner, said: “Our hearts go out to the officers who have died, their families, and those who have been wounded. . .
“In this season in our national life, everything becomes a political football, though we hope that this does not happen here. In recent days we have been disturbed once again to hear of the shootings of African American men in different parts of our country.
“These concerns offer no warrant for murder, nor should we associate the latter with legitimate and peaceful demonstration. Threatening public peace and order endangers all of us as citizens, and we stand with those who work to keep us safe.”
The Bishops of Louisiana and Minnesota have also spoken out.
“It is true that a deep and systemic racial divide permeates our country,” the Bishop of Louisiana, the Rt Revd Morris King Thompson Jr, said. “It is true that we can have the highest regard for those who serve and protect us, while still wanting there to be policies that protect our most vulnerable community members.
“And it is also true that we must work to make this world a better place for our children and grandchildren. We are proving ourselves unworthy of them.”
The Bishop of Minnesota, Brian Prior, said that “the violence that plagues our communities continues, the violence that permeates our culture continues to grow. . .
“Our call is clear, our voices must be strong and resonant. We all must examine our own hearts. We must root out any violence that resides there. We must stand together to dismantle the systems and structures in our society that perpetuate violence. We must seek to live fully into God’s call to reconciliation and to justice.”
The President of the United States, Barrack Obama, who was visiting a number of European countries following last week’s NATO summit, has cancelled the rest of his visit and is returning to the United States, where he will attend a multifaith memorial service for the fallen police officers in Dallas tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has deployed a team of “rapid response chaplains” to Dallas. “It’s hard to know what to say in the face of all of the violence we’ve seen in recent days,” the association’s international director, Jack Munday, said. “Please pray for this entire situation, stretching from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge to Dallas.”