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Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225


To Know Christ and to Make Him Known



Pastoral Letter from Bishop Haynes

June 17, 2022

PASTORAL LETTER IN THE WAKE OF SHOOTING
AT ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

O God, the heathen have come into your inheritance; they have profaned your holy temple; they have made Jerusalem a heap of rubble. They have given the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the air, and the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the field. (Psalm 79:1-2)
Last night a lone gunman walked into St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama (outside of Birmingham) and began shooting at a group of people who had gathered for a meal. He killed two and wounded another. Throughout these past months we have watched in horror as violence spreads throughout our world. We are especially horrified, however, when it enters our houses of worship. The priest of this congregation has asked for our prayers as they navigate the aftermath of this violence. Please join me in prayers for their healing and safety. Please join me in prayer for the healing of the world from violence and hatred. Please join me in prayers of discernment as to what we can do in our own contexts to promote the Peace which surpasses all understanding…the Peace shining out from the Prince of Peace.
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
BEST PRACTICES FOR CHURCH SECURITY
Several churches in our diocese have implemented practices to ensure security during their gatherings in their buildings, including protocols for the unthinkable event of an active shooter. In the coming weeks, the diocese will again offer Active Shooter Training and will assemble and disseminate resources for parish use. Meanwhile we encourage seeking training where possible and active alliance with first responders and law enforcement officials.
Blessings and peace,
+Susan