Connecticut bishops issue statement in response to shooting massacre

Posted Dec 14, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] The bishops of the Diocese of Connecticut issued the following statement in response to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of 5 and 10, were shot and killed. The school is located in Newtown, Connecticut, about 65 miles northeast of New York City.

Dear Friends in Christ:

We are shocked and overwhelmed by the horrendous tragedy of the school shooting in Sandy Hook.  We hold the victims, their families, and all who are affected by the shooting in our thoughts and prayers for healing and strength.  We pray that those who have died will be held in the arms of our loving God whose heart aches for those affected by this tragedy.

We bishops have been in touch with the Rev. Mark Moore, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook which is adjacent to the school were the shooting took place.  We have also communicated with the leadership of Trinity Church, Newtown, and we understand that the Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Church is on the scene ministering to the bereaved.

We are departing immediately for Newtown/Sandy Hook to be of whatever assistance we can.  We will be in contact when we have additional information.

We invite all clergy to open our churches for prayer.

Please keep all who have died, the one who has perpetrated the shooting, and all affected by this incident in your prayers.  May the God who we await this Advent season bring us hope and new life in Jesus the Christ.

Faithfully, Ian, Laura and Jim

The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas

The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens

The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry


Comments (22)

  1. Sharon Dame says:

    To the Rt. Reverends/RIGHT Reverends:

    Just a note to say how much I truly appreciate your letter. While I live in Palm Bay, FL and attend Episcopal Church of Our Savior, I am much removed, physically from the horror of today’s news. However, when you are a grandmother of 7 and raised 5, this story just had me in tears. Your letter was comforting. I thank God for all who become the hands and feet of Christ during this tragedy.

    I noticed in one of the pictures regarding this tragedy, a mother and her child getting ready to walk into a church – near the school. God Bless her! I would do the same. I hope there will be a lot of churches involved in services for these families in the coming days.

    God be with us all and give us strength, courage and wisdom, especially during this time.

    With Love in Him, who is in full control,

  2. Jana L. Johnsen says:

    You’re all smart and well-educated, start drafting legislation and writing petitions about controlling gun violence. Surely you know that this tragedy was entirely preventable. Put something in place to stop the epidemic. God gave us great minds to put them to work for the common good.
    Advent Pleas,
    Rev. Jana L. Johnsen

    1. Richard DiRenzo says:

      We pray for those who died in this terrible, but yet another, school tragedy. We pray for the families and friends who cannot yet fathom the why. This is not the time for some to be saying we have chased God from our schools, and other places we identify with daily. It is time for us, and for those who govern to stand up, say enough and create sensible gun control. No person in his or her right mind should object to sensible control. It is meant to protect them, their families and we as a society.
      Now is the time for leadership, not just words, but the strength to do the right thing.

      1. Tracy Messina says:

        We already HAVE gun control. NY, CT and NJ have some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. We don’t need more “gun control”. We need more self control. That’s what the church USED to be good for- reminding us of how prone to sin we are.
        You say “it is not the time to be saying we chased God from our schools” but you feel it is the time to say we must further restrict people’s rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment says I am not to be disallowed from keeping and bearing anything which the government may have and use against ME. I already have lost that level of freedom, and now folks like you want more restrictions brought to bear on all law-abiding people.
        The Episcopal church would not stand up for the Catholic’s right to freedom of religious expression, and it is with sadness that I admit that I fully expect the Episcopal church to be on the wrong side of any gun control issue as well.

  3. Joan Phelps says:

    Thank you for going to Newtown. I’m sure Kathie and Mark would feel good support in the midst of this horror that they have walked through this day. My prayers are with you as you listen, pray and care. I sit here feeling lost, in shock and bewildered. Darkness just has to continue creeping in and when it strikes it is more than anyone can process. So I pray, I shed tears and ache for those parents, friends, staff and really all of the Sandy Hook/Newtown communtiy. Peace and thanks.

  4. Julie Abbott-Jones says:

    I, too, am grateful for the letter. Right now I do not know who to turn to in the horror except my church family. I do hope that after the first job of comforting the bereaved is lessened, there is some leadership and guidance regarding actions to take.

  5. Fr Phillip Ayers says:

    Dear Bishops,

    Thank you for your pastoral support at this time of need in Newtown and Sandy Hook. Having served in the diocese (1974-88) in North Haven (loved it!), I know that area well as the clergy were all good friends and colleagues and I made many calls on my folk who were at the Masonic Home in Sandy Hook. Bless you!

    Phil Ayers

  6. Alex Dyer says:

    It is a sad day in Connecticut. In our diocese we have been talking about interdependence and how we are all connected to one another. It is tragedies like this, that demonstrate that connectedness in real and profound ways. I give thanks for the ministry of our bishops and for their presence. Keep our diocese in your prayers.

    Loving God, Jesus gathered your little ones in his arms and blessed them. Have pity on those who mourn for the victims of the shoot at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and for all the innocent slaughtered by the violence of our fallen world. Be with us as we struggle with the mysteries of life and death; in our pain, bring your comfort, and in our sorrow, bring your hope and your promise of new life, in the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen. (From Enriching our Worship 2)

  7. F. William Thewalt says:

    Control of weapons and ammunition is a much needed step. I suggest a tax of a minimum of $1 per bullet. That could raise money and it avoids the Constitutional hangup of the “right to bear arms.” For now our prayers go to all those affected by this tragedy.

    1. Tracy Messina says:

      Sorry you feel that the Constitution is a hangup and our rights belong in quotation marks. It says volumes.

  8. Charles Wilson says:

    My Lord Bishops,
    Your diocese will be in my prayers as it try’s to come to sense with evil.

  9. Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa says:

    Dear sisters and brothers in Christ – please know you are being upheld by the love and prayers of your family here in Aotearoa New Zealand as the horror of this day engulfs you all. My tears and my prayers are with the parents and families of the innocent little ones, those doubtless already enchanted during this Advent tide by the impending birth of our Lord and Saviour. Equally my tears and my prayers are with the families of the innocent adults slain so needlessly, so mercilessly, so inexplicably. Please, please act now to rid your nation of its gun culture – there is no other way and there is no theologically defensible excuse why not.
    God’s gentle blessings of solace and deep consolation be with you all this day and always. Jenny.

  10. Chris white says:

    Fingers hit the send button before I was done… Anyway, I hope we can Somehow refocus on the values that have held us in such good stead for so long. We can start by teaching our kIds once more that there are some things that are wrong and some things that are right… Life has gotten so contextually driven that we simply explain away everything making it seem as if anything is Ok so long as there is an explanation. As for gun laws, I am in favor of controls but remember that the bad guys don’t play by the rules. Thus, laws that regulate the behavior of the law abiding may have little effect upon those with ill intent. Peace and prayers to all impacted by this tragedy and for our country.

    1. Tracy Messina says:

      You’re the only person here who has said something sensible about gun laws; namely, that criminals and those bent on harming others don’t care about laws.
      All of the Episcopalian NRA members had better start speaking up. There are plenty of them.

  11. Sharon Dame says:

    To Fr. Phillip Ayers:

    Oh, dear Lord! The MASONIC building?! I just don’t feel our Lord could be pleased with that Order.

    Most Sincerely,
    Sharon D.

    1. Tracy Messina says:

      The Masons and Shriners do a TREMENDOUS amount of charitable work, especially for children. Many of their members are also active in Episcopal churches.

  12. Titus Presler says:

    The bishops of Connecticut are the church leaders at this moment whose sole focus must be on consoling and caring for the people directly affected by the outrage committed in Newtown. The rest of us should be writing to our president, senators and representatives to demand resolute action to reform access to guns. Moreover we should be offering concrete support to groups like the Brady Center which lobby for gun control. Unfortunately the statements of most public figures over the past 24 hours have focused on empathy with the grieving. We elected them to do much more than that, and they must be held accountable. For us to simply wring our hands at these “tragedies” and roll our eyes at the “craziness” of the Gun Lobby is actually be complicit in the criminal evil that is invading homes, theaters, places of worship and schools in this country. There is enormous energy pouring out around the Newtown killings. For it to dissipate without political mobilization for gun control will be the real tragedy. Please mobilize.

    1. Tracy Messina says:

      We already HAVE gun control legislation.

  13. Wilfrido Ramos Orench says:

    My heart aches as I learned the sad news of this tragic and senseless event. My prayers are with you all particularly with the parents, relatives and friends of the victims. The whole State of Connecticut is mourning and so the entire world. I join all of you in solidarity and caring love. May you and our beloved Episcopal Church in Connecticut be instruments of the healing and conforting grace of God . Although physically distant I am very much spiritually present.
    In Christ,
    + Wilfrido

  14. Sharon Dame says:

    Thank you, Titus and I DO apologize to you, Fr. Phillip Ayers. Now is not the time to be talking about the Masons….However, I really DO believe we need to keep our Lord first and foremost in EVERYTHING we do. I’m dying to go on and on but I will spare “y’all.’ (I’m actually from Massachusetts, originally).

  15. Chris white says:

    The challenge at times like these is to find wisdom in the midst of powerful emotion, which usually drives us to reactionary decisions that often prove extreme. I hope that what comes of this tragedy more than anything else is to propel people to connect again. We are so frayed and caught up in the pseudo intimacy of social media that we are losing some of our human connectedness. As a psychologist, I fear this has more to do with the rise of these horrible events more than anything else. When disconnected from each other socially we lose the empathetic brakes that normally inhibit such antisocial behavior. Guns have been plentiful for centuries yet it is only in the past 15-years or so where such acts have become part of our experience. This corresponds more with the rise of social media and heightened loneliness in our society more than anything else. I am not sure how to make it happen but I know I am going to make more efforts to be with people in real life than in the social media sphere. Peace, solace and prayers for all.

  16. Joyce Ann Edmondson says:

    The root of the problem is respect for life…first to respect the life that has been given to YOU, and then others. In America we have almost lost respect for the very beginnings of life. We have a responsibility to start all over again to teach our children that God is a God of love and loves them infinitely so that they can love others as well. All religions teach the principle: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but do they follow it? Give the example to your children and they will follow. Whatever is done to one of these little ones is done to me. That is the message.

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