Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi issued a pastoral letter this morning calling United Methodists to prayer and action to address gun violence and the increasing number of assaults on Asian Americans in the United States. The text of her letter follows:
Siblings in Christ,
We all continue to grieve and lament the gun violence in our society.
I pray for the community of Boulder, Colorado that has now lost 10 persons, including a police officer in a supermarket shooting. Ironically, a state judge 10 days earlier ruled that the city could not enforce an assault weapons ban enacted in 2018 to prevent mass shootings there. Because I know us to be a praying annual conference, I am confident that you have already offered a word of prayer for the families of those who lost their lives and have been physically and emotionally wounded by the shooting. Please continue to lift them in prayer, as healing from these kinds of events takes years.
Please also continue to lift in prayer members of the Asian community living in the United States. We all were horrified last week when six women of Asian descent were among eight people murdered, most at their place of work, by one gunman. While officials have not declared it a hate crime, we know that violent crimes against members of the Asian community rose 150 percent in 2020 as that community was scapegoated for the frustrations many have been feeling as a result of the coronavirus. Because of all the work we have been doing to dismantle racism, I know that members of this annual conference have an understanding of the dynamics involved in the process of scapegoating. We know that scapegoating is a sin.
I urge all of us, particularly during this season of Lent, to engage in prayerful self-reflection, entreating God to reveal to us the ways in which we might proactively combat the racism being hurled at our Asian siblings. For example, God might encourage you to speak against a micro-aggressive comment made in conversation. God revealed to me that I should contribute to an organization providing protection to older members of the Asian community. The organization coordinates volunteers to walk with the elders of their community to the grocery store or on other errands. Please be extra attentive to how God might be urging you to act.
Finally, I ask you keep our Asian American clergy and their families in your prayers. Pray for their peace and safety. If God puts it in your heart, please reach out to them and let them know that you stand with them and the Asian community. You might even ask if you can pray for them in that moment.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. --- Ephesians 6:18
Peace and blessings,
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi