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Pastoral Letter from Our Bishop: TO PRAY, MOURN, AND BEAR WITNESS

My siblings in Christ:

I write to thank our diocesan family for your fierce, faithful prayers this week for the victims of the shootings in Monterey Park and San Mateo County, their families and friends, and all members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Our thoughts naturally rushed first to the people of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Monterey Park. No member was directly affected, but some live near the shooting site or have visited in the past. Church leaders resolved to proceed with their scheduled worship Sunday morning. Priest in charge the Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata, senior warden Anne Cheng, and I have remained in touch. Please keep them and the whole parish in your prayers as well the people of Alhambra, where heroes disarmed the shooter at a second site, and throughout the San Gabriel Valley, where members of the closely interconnected AAPI community were especially shaken by violence committed on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

More broadly, like the murder of eight people in Atlanta in March 2021 and one at a Laguna Woods church in May 2022, this week’s attacks provoked anxiety and trauma among those of our neighbors who have experienced lifetimes of racist judgment and slurs, made worse by the scapegoating of China and Chinese people at the highest levels of the U.S. government during the pandemic. Knowing the ethnicity of the shooters on Saturday and Monday does not mitigate our AAPI siblings’ pain. If anything, it makes it worse.

The differing truths of different mass shootings don’t change the work we have to do. In our nation, communities, and churches, the way forward is as it has always been. Being curious about and open to relationship with all God’s people in all our diversity and difference, understanding that the beloved community is a plural community, incarnating the whole face of God. Noticing and taking action if anyone in our circles of relationship is slipping into the shadows of fear, isolation, and hatred. Advocating for common sense policies that make it harder for troubled people to get guns.

And, in these early days, mourning and offering our witness. The Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel invites you to a prayer vigil on Sunday, January 29 at 4 p.m. The Rev. Katherine Feng will preach. The service will include “A Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting” by Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Book of Common Prayer, p. 815

Yours in Christ’s love,

The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor

VII Bishop of Los Angeles

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