Tennessee bishops’ statement on gun violence

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Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the LORD of hosts? Zechariah 8:4-6

As Episcopal Bishops in the State of Tennessee, we are persuaded that the vision of Zechariah, a vision for the renewal of Jerusalem, with the promise of return from exile, is a vision for us today, too.

The epidemic of gun violence across our land has made none of the streets of our state safe, either for the old to sit or the young to play. As bishops who believe God invites us to inhabit the promised visions of the prophets, along with praying for those whose lives have been disrupted and destroyed by gun violence, we also pray that our state legislators will act now to find and walk a path together, enacting legislation which embraces common sense gun regulations. We ask that our legislators give our communities the tools necessary now to ensure that the children of Tennessee will be able to play safely in our streets, and grow up to be elders, without a daily fear that acts of gun violence are impossible to stop.

It is not a question if God is in our streets or not. God is here, God is there. What is heartbreaking is that the God in our streets, for now, is suffering and lamenting, seeing the blood of the old and the young. Along with God’s, our hearts are breaking, too. It is time for us to wake from this shared nightmare, and recall that we are called to believe that safe streets, schools, and communities, are not only possible, but essential for the sake of our state and our souls.

The Rt. Rev. John Bauerschmidt
Bishop of Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. Brian L. Cole
Bishop of East Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf
Bishop of West Tennessee