St. John's Episcopal Church Newsletter 
Issue: #29

    June 19, 2015
In This Issue
Episcopal Shield

church interior

In Mourning with the People of Charleston

We at St. John's in Essex NY, along with people of faith everywhere, mourn the senseless killing of nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015,  and we condemn this hate crime that claimed the lives of our sisters and brothers at prayer. This is not only an assault on the people of Mother Emanuel, but an attack on houses of worship everywhere. To our friends in Charleston we say: We stand with you, we mourn with you, and in spirit we will walk alongside you in the difficult days ahead.
We share the sentiments expressed by Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC, as she indicated that all people of good will are compelled to name this tragedy for what it is: the conjoined sins of racism and violence. For too long, our African-American sisters and brothers have lived in the shadow of a reign of terror that has targeted churches, homes and businesses in the false notion of white supremacy. Such a visceral hatred for people of color has no place in our country, our homes or our hearts.
As a nation, we delude ourselves if we think that Wednesday's attack is an isolated aberration. From 16th Street Baptist in Birmingham to the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, sanctuaries of prayer have been the target of violence. Too often, the false idol of racial superiority has been the motivation; too often, easy access to guns has been seen as the solution, not a symptom of a more severe sickness.
We at St. John's ask God's healing on our land and, while we live in a community with limited racial diversity itself, we commit ourselves anew to justice and racial reconciliation.
In support of the initiative suggested to us by Bishop Ely, five of us rang St. John's bells for 10 minutes at noon today; one minute each for the nine victims and one minute for the soul of the killer. 


A Statement from the Rt. Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Vermont 


Dear people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont

Once again, tragedy at the hands of gun violence has entered the life of our nation. A young white man, now identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed nine innocent people. As more details unfold, it seems clear to me that this act of violence is a hate crime motivated by racism. As a person of faith I utterly condemn this sinful action and call on other people of faith to increase our commitment to work and pray for an end to racial hatred and gun violence in our country.

My heart and prayers go out to the people of Emanuel, the families of the victims and the people of Charleston. I also pray for Dylann Roof and others who are prone to this type of violence for whatever reason. I pray that our society might find ways to turn from violence and devote our efforts more to the common good.

The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, has asked the people of that diocese to pray this familiar prayer attributed to Saint Francis. I invite the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont to join with our sisters and brothers in South Carolina in praying these words with special intent for the people most directly affected by this senseless tragedy, as well as for ourselves.

"Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loves

as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

Members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops, are asking churches in our dioceses to ring bells for 10 minutes at noon tomorrow (Friday, June 19th). We suggest ringing the bells one minute for each victim and one minute for the soul of the individual who committed the crime. I ask that all Episcopal Churches in Vermont join in this witness to peace and hope for healing.

At the upcoming General Convention of The Episcopal Church being held in Salt Lake City, Utah one of the events I will participate in is the Bishops United Against Gun Violence prayerful procession "Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence," on Sunday, June 28. I ask your prayers in support of this witness and in support of all who witness for peace and an end to violence in our society.


Thomas C. Ely