Holmerud: Shooting pushes us to become ‘communities of peace’

News from Las Vegas, Nev., of a shooting that has left nearly 60 dead and more than 500 wounded prompted this message from Bishop Mark Holmerud, leader of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Peace Lutheran Church is a part of the SIerra Pacific Synod, which includes northern Nevada and northern California.)

I awoke this morning to see the horrific news of the massacre in Las Vegas just a few hours ago.  This is, according to news reports, the deadliest such shooting rampage in United States history. Sadly, it is not the first, nor will it be the last such incidence of gun violence.

More than four years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hill School shooting in Newtown, Conn.,, the Conference of Bishops published a pastoral letter encouraging prayer and advocacy, with resources for use in congregational and community conversations.

I am sending this letter to you today because many of the statements it contains and the resources it provides will be helpful, I believe, as we once again become communities of prayer, peace, hope, advocacy and deliberation.

+  I encourage all of us to ponder how we can be “public church” in this moment, for such a time as this, to stand with sisters and brothers of faith and good will as we pause to pray for healing and reflect on the pain and suffering of those whose lives will forever be altered by this event.

+  I pray we will make ourselves visible at vigils and remembrances to let Christ’s light shine through our presence, care and compassion.

+  I hope we will use our voices to advocate for legislative initiatives which will finally stem access to weapons such as those used in this massacre which have but one purpose – to visit upon hundreds, thousands of innocents this kind of carnage.

+  I lament yet another senseless tragedy, which calls to mind a school shooting which took place in Stockton where I was serving in 1989, and so many other such incidents since that time.  Please join me in not forgetting that these senseless acts of violence cannot and will not be the last word in this moment. Let a last word be our voices calling for a change in gun and ammunition laws which makes these acts possible. Let a last word be that we advocate for mental health services and other means of services for those who need such assistance. Let a last word be our commitment to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Let a last word be our “Amen” to the light of Christ which shines brightly through us, even and especially now.

 Thank you for your work and witness in all things, and in this time.


Bp. Mark

Resources for change

Read the ELCA Conference of Bishops’ statement on violence.