My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

It is sad to face the reality that violence, hatred and bloodshed has become commonplace in our society. This brutal reality cannot and should not be accepted and normalized by people of faith. While we lift our voices together in prayer for the victims, families, and cities where these recent mass shootings have occurred, we are also reminded of our moral obligation to "resist evil in whatever form it presents itself."
This steady occurrence of violence, fueled by racism and hatred, cannot be fed by the energy derived from the silence of Christians that fail to speak out against such evil. It is not enough to just whisper prayers of intercession for those who have been victimized; we must also unite our voices in crying out against the root causes of these acts of injustice.
I prayerfully call upon the United Methodists of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to help shoulder the responsibility for seeking solutions that will move us all closer together as children beloved of God. I urge us to work toward tearing down walls that separate, divide, and cause us to remain fragmented and fractured.
Racism is a sin and a disease that must be dealt with by people of faith. Only the love of God, anchored in Jesus Christ, can rid our society and our world of this vile and sin-fueled evil that would cause innocent and helpless men, women, and children to fall prey to these senseless acts of bloodshed and hatred. I urge you to pray for healing and restoration as you use your voice to speak out against this and other acts of hostility.
Please know that my heart hurts and aches alongside yours as we face the brutal fact that we live in a broken world. Your faith and your testimony to the transforming power of Jesus Christ is needed now more than ever. Let us unite as people of faith and demonstrate to the world that we will not allow hatred to thrive and divide us. Let us demonstrate through our living and our praying the words of a much-loved hymn, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!"
God Bless,

Bishop Frank J. Beard