North Carolina: Episcopal bishops respond to violence in Charlottesville

Posted Aug 14, 2017

[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina] The violence this past weekend in Charlottesville is both heartbreaking and sickening. Heartbreaking that innocent lives were lost and others were seriously injured, and that violence was used to try and silence and intimidate those who stood against hatred, racism and evil. The events were sickening in that our divisions in this country have reached a crisis point that resulted in an eruption of violence with deadly consequences.

How are we to respond, as Christians, in a way that condemns these actions, but does not contribute to the rhetoric of hate? We will need to rediscover the deep roots of non-violence embedded in the gospel and the Jesus Movement: non-violence that calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute others, to refuse to fight evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Anger, even righteous, thirst-for-justice-anger, may be too volatile in this particular moment in time to be effective, especially if it escalates the situation. What we may need to do is to refocus and re-immerse ourselves in the powerful love of the vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth. We may need, now more than ever, to rededicate ourselves to principles Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God …” (Philippians 4:4-6)

Pray for the safety of the peacemakers who came to let their lights so shine. Pray for those who have been sucked into the powerful vacuum of evil that finds its force through the absence of love. Pray that those who resort to violence – no matter what their political perspective – will be met with soul force of goodness that must rise up, organize and unite people of faith from all traditions that teach and practice love of one’s neighbors.

Overcoming evil with good can happen only with an infusion of the holiness that comes from God. Our prayer is that we will be channels and vessels of the goodness and grace whose source is the author of life, the one who proclaims that all life is sacred, holy.

Yours faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman
Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple
Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of North Carolina


Comments (2)

  1. Tony Oberdorfer says:

    Crocodile tears as always. For years TEC leaders from the top down have been encouraging vicious movements such as Black Lives Matter while at the same time disrespecting the legitimate concerns of Episcopalians who resent seeing our country’s healthy long-standing traditions go to hell. Episcopal churches in Charlottesville and elsewhere have been in the forefront of those agitating for the removal of monuments honoring true American heroes such as General Lee. It was evidently to offer some resistance thereto that the Charlottesville march was originally inspired and hardly the fault of the organizers that those who would like to drive President Trump from office used the occasion for their own devious purposes. No wonder decent Episcopalians continue to leave the Church in large numbers.

  2. Wayne Helmly says:

    Thank you, Bishops Rodman and Hodges-Copple for a response to this tragedy that is grounded in scripture and truth.

    Gen. Robert E. Lee was against civil war monuments. In an 1869 letter declining an invitation to Gettysburg to attend the dedication of a monument commemorating the infamous battle fought there he wrote, “I think it wise moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

    Perhaps the general’s most heroic act was realizing the damage that had been done and not wanting to perpetuate it.

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