May 8, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, my siblings in the Mountain Sky Conference,
Yesterday afternoon we heard the news that two students at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado shot and injured eight students, and fatally wounded one student, in a senseless act of violence.
Let us grieve for this loss of safety and of life in our midst. Let us grieve with the families, students, teachers, and all who have been traumatized by these harmful acts. Let us hold one another close in love as we lament the harm that has been caused to our beloved children. And let us rest in God’s embrace when we cannot express our grief, our sense of loss, our anger, and our fear.
I give thanks to God for the witness of St. Luke’s and St. Andrew United Methodist churches and for the ways they became waystations of comfort for the grieving and relief for the responders. The pastoral teams and lay members were the arms of Christ as they embraced scared youth and frantic parents. They were vessels of God’s abiding, steadfast presence throughout the day and into the night, and continue to be a place of prayer, solace and safety today.
May we follow the model of these two congregations and channel our pain and grief into tangible pathways to the peace and hope that is required of us as followers of Christ. For we know that God calls us to stand up to all that enables injustice, violence, and death. Matthew 5:9 reminds us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
We are the ones God calls on to turn from violence and create Beloved Community. May we never become desensitized to acts of violence, may we continue to be put at dis-ease, and may we be ever compelled to seek peace. May our following of the Prince of Peace renew and empower us as we work for peace, justice, and reconciliation in our world.
Bishop Karen P. Oliveto