The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts jointly issued on March 1, 2018, the following call, "From Lamentation to Action." In it they urge solidarity in prayer on March 14, in response to a call for such from the Bishops United Against Gun Violence coalition, and they encourage participation locally and nationally in the March 24 "March For Our Lives." Ways to be involved are listed below the bishops' message.
From Lamentation to Action
A joint statement from the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
March 1, 2018
We have all had enough of our children dying in their classrooms. We have had enough of mass shootings in which a semi-automatic rifle was the weapon of choice.
They lurk in ambush in public squares
And in secret places they murder the innocent;
They spy out the helpless. (Psalm 10:8)
We have all had enough of the cycle of trauma, shock, anger, grief and numbness, fatigue and inaction. As followers of Jesus we have a two-fold mandate: lamentation and action. We must bring all of this to prayer for that is where we are held by the God who weeps with us. Prayer is the way we can come to some recognition and understanding of our complicity. It is the doorway to a transformed life.
As your bishops we join with Bishops United Against Gun Violence in designating Wednesday, March 14 as a Day of Lamentation for the lost and for the guilty, and to seek the transformation of our hearts. We ask you to gather in your congregations, or pause wherever you may be, at some time on that day, to weep, to mourn, to cry out to the God of justice.
We are grateful for and blessed by the initiative of young survivors of the recent Parkland, Florida, shooting who are leading the way in calling for the removal of weapons of war from our streets, and we thus encourage participation also in the March For Our Lives on Saturday, March 24. The mission statement on the event site reads as follows:
"March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to stop the epidemic of mass shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the 17 lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now."
On March 24, many will make the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Many will travel to Boston. Still others will march in locally organized "sister" marches throughout our Commonwealth. It is our fervent prayer that these coordinated events will be effective in moving the leaders of our nation to enact common-sense gun safety measures to proactively address the security of our schools and public places, including reinstatement of an assault weapons ban.
The Episcopal Church stands with the brokenhearted. Let us pray together on March 14. Let us stand up on March 24. Let us move from lamentation to action for the sake of our children, for the soul of our nation and for the love of Jesus Christ.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop Diocesan, Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan, Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Massachusetts
Ways to participate:
Wednesday, March 14
• Prayer services: In response to the call from Bishops United Against Gun Violence for unity in prayer on March 14, a Litany of Lamentations will be included as part of the 10 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist and the 12 p.m. Santa Misa at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston. Christ Church Cathedral (35 Chestnut Street) in Springfield will hold a Service of Lamentation at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome.
Check the Events page and local parish listings for information on local parish observances.
Liturgical resources for use in local services, collected by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, are available here.
• Prayerful action in Springfield: In collaboration with interfaith partners and grassroots organizers in the Pioneer Valley, the bishops of the dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts will join youth and other interfaith and local partners in a peaceful, one-hour action outside the gates of Smith and Wesson, 2100 Roosevelt Avenue, in Springfield, from 3 to 4 p.m. Read more here. Questions may be directed to Sarah O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Student walk-outs: Locally and around the country, many are calling for students, teachers and allies to take part in a National School Walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 killed in Parkland, Fla. Other types of walkouts also are being planned. Guidelines from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for College Admissions are available here as resources to students contemplating participation in local actions on March 14. For information on potential student actions in Boston on March 14, contact the Rev. Tim Crellin at St. Stephen’s Church in Boston at email@example.com.
Saturday, March 24
• Episcopal News Service will be aggregating participation news with the hashtag #MarchEpiscopal.
• In Washington, D.C.: Episcopal City Mission is making plans for a charter bus to the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Sign up for a bus seat here. The bus will depart Boston at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 23 (pick-up location to be determined) and arrive in time for evening vigil at Washington National Cathedral. The group will spend Friday night at St. Alban's Church. Following the march on Saturday, March 24, the bus will depart Washington, D.C., at 5 p.m. for the return trip to Boston.
• In Massachusetts: In solidarity with those taking part in the Washington, D.C., March For Our Lives, more than 100 sister marches are taking shape in locations across the country, including Boston, Northampton, Springfield and Worcester.
Episcopalians participating in March for Our Lives Boston will have several opportunities to come together (please note updated logistics to accommodate changed march route):
• The B-PEACE for Jorge Campaign and Episcopal City Mission will gather marchers beginning at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry building, (10 Putnam Street/John Eliot Square) in Roxbury (parking available). This group will join the main march beginning at Madison Park High School at 11 a.m. For more information contact Sarah O’Connor at 508-463-7363.
• The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston and the diocesan Office of Youth Ministry will be offering hospitality throughout the day at the cathedral church, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.—a place to rest, refresh, reflect and convene before the march reaches the Boston Common and during the rally scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. There will be a postcard writing opportunity focused on those who have the power to affect legislation and gun sales. For more information contact Natalie Finstad at 832-454-6631 or the Rev. H. Mark Smith at 617-482-4826, ext. 215.
At each of these locations, people will be able to participate in social media and advocacy actions to reinforce that an overabundance of guns on streets and in schools is an intolerable epidemic (#NotinOurSchoolsAndNotInOurStreets); that gun manufacturers need to be a part of the solution (#MeetWithStudents); and in favor of Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation in Massachusetts (#PassERPO).
• Grace Church in Medford is hosting a community breakfast and sign-making gathering before the Boston march, beginning at 8 a.m. All are welcome.
• Emmanuel Church and Central Reform Temple in Boston will offer a pre-march prayer service at 10:30 a.m., with Bishop Gayle E. Harris and clergy from neighboring congregations. All are welcome.
• Find a blessing of marchers, shared by the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, here.
Updated March 21, 2018