What does it take?

My heart is heavy as violent death and injury have invaded the campus of a college in Roseburg, Ore. Set in a quiet setting of rolling hills and mountains, meadows and a meandering river, this campus is a place where one would never expect violence of the magnitude that was experienced.

Bishop Robert Hoshibata

Bishop Hoshibata

In its wake, there are calls for action. Commentators are using words like “once again,” and “here as in other places.” There is frustration at the repetitive occurrence of senseless acts like this.

Perhaps you join me in wanting to do something that may make a difference. We ask ourselves what it would take to transform the world into a place where we are able to strike a balance between those who staunchly defend the second amendment right to bear arms with the urgent need to curb use of arms to massacre innocent lives.

This is not an easy question, even for those of us who proclaim faith in Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Lack of action

While I personally do not believe in keeping firearms in my home, I understand that there are those who do and who are responsible owners and users of such weaponry. I get that.

What I cannot abide is the lack of action on the part of many to engage in respectful conversations and balanced, reasonable actions.

But what I cannot abide is the lack of action on the part of many to engage in respectful conversations and balanced, reasonable actions that may curb this particular epidemic: the slaughter of humans by another person.

Let’s do something about this!

I am asking all congregations in the Desert Southwest Conference to covenant with me to action. May I ask that as a starter, you engage in a Bible study in the next few months to discuss this violence. I ask you to invite conversation and prayerful reflection that may lead to action that may be a part of the transformation in Jesus Christ.

Will you covenant with me?

’Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities’

The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church is offering an excellent resource that will enable this. A three-session Bible study entitled, “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities” was written a while ago, but continues to be meaningful as we cope with the Roseburg shooting.

Beginning with a biblical perspective, this study leads us to consider the complexity involved in discussions about gun violence and related issues. The Bible study can be downloaded free from the website of the General Board of Church and Society at “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities.”

Will you engage in this Bible study in your places of worship, prayer and ministry?

Other actions

And there are other actions I hope we will incorporate in our ministry settings. Please:

  • Hold the community of Roseburg, Ore., and the congregation and the leadership of First United Methodist Church of Roseburg and the Oregon-Idaho Conference in your prayers.
  • Pray for those who are injured and recovering from physical as well as emotional and spiritual trauma and pain.
  • Ask God to comfort those who have lost loved ones to this violence.
  • Ask God for forgiveness for the shooter and his family.
  • Advocate for sensible laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of those who would use them for evil.
  • Speak up for the need to strengthen our care for those with mental-health issues that make them prone to violence and harm against others and themselves.
  • Dare to pray for a miracle: that we will see a time when violent massacres will cease.

New meaning

A hymn I have sung many times takes on new meaning this day:

INDENT God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power;
Crown thine ancient church’s story; bring her bud to glorious flower.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.

Cure thy children’s warring madness, bend our pride to thy control;
Shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.

(The United Methodist Hymnal #577)

Let’s be a part of the cure!

Working and praying for Christ’s shalom.

Editor's note: Bishop Robert Hoshibata is episcopal leader of the Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church. He is also president of the denomination’s General Board of Church & Society. This article is a letter he sent to the Desert Southwest Conference.

As of Oct. 8, Bishop Hoshibata reported that 22 churches have made a commitment to lead with the "Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities," Bible study.  In addition, he is working with two other persons to lead the study for all the staff who want to participate at the Desert Southwest Conference Center.

Letter to the Editor