Western Massachusetts bishop responds to shootings

Posted Jul 9, 2016

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, IX Bishop of Western Massachusetts, has issued a statement to clergy and parishes regarding the events of the last 72 hours in America. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the officers gunned down in Dallas have prompted people of faith to reflect, to engage in painful conversations about race and gun violence, to examine our collective responsibility to end the bloodshed. The full text of Fisher’s statement follows below.

In Christ all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17

During his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw terrible violence and lost his life for speaking the truth to our nation. I find myself wondering what he would say to us today. His way of nonviolence – Jesus’ way – meant that we had to watch Selma and Birmingham on the evening news as police and guardsmen beat and bloodied young protestors. Fifty years later, people we look to for protection – motivated by fear – become judge, jury and executioner in viral video. The more this happens, the less their lives seem to matter. We stand against racism.

Violence will never end violence. Hate only feeds hate. The news from Baton Rouge and St. Paul – captured by cell phones – must force us to speak to one another about race in America. We must admit the ugly truth that Black lives are in danger. We must look long and hard at the way we hire and train our Law Enforcement Officers. Something is broken and we must have the courage to fix it.

Dallas – the city that still bears the weight of another killing more than fifty years ago – today, her streets are marked with the blood of heroes. When hatred fuels the heart of a man with an assault-style weapon, innocent people are gunned down in the streets – people who put their lives at risk for us every day. We stand with those who keep the peace. Those sworn to protect our lives and property are grieving. We must carry the families of the dead in our hearts. We weep with those who weep.

Make no mistake that hatred plus an automatic weapon equals death. Gun violence in America is now, God help us, part of the fabric of our lives. We cannot let fear take hold – though fear is the right feeling. Whether we “sit in” or stand up or speak truth until we have no words left, we must DO something to end the carnage. We cry out for an end to the violence – for Baton Rouge, for St. Paul, and for Dallas. In Christ all things hold together. In his name I pray.


The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher
IX Bishop of Western Massachusetts