January 18, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
We Bishops of the Diocese of Virginia write to urge you to join us and countless others in prayer all weekend long for the city of Richmond. Please pray particularly on Monday, which is not only the day when we commemorate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but is also Lobby Day at the State Capitol in the heart of Richmond.
Thousands of people from across the Commonwealth and from states far away are expected to converge on the Capitol grounds to protest against gun control legislation that is before our General Assembly. In the face of credible threats of violence, our Governor, Ralph Northam, has declared a state of emergency and banned all firearms from the Capitol grounds. Airspace over the grounds has been restricted to prevent attacks from drones. Roads around the Capitol grounds will be closed. Virginia Commonwealth University has cancelled all classes on Monday and a number of businesses in downtown Richmond have authorized their employees to work from home. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the Capitol grounds, will be closed all day because the safety of their clergy and staff could not be assured. An afternoon rally on the Capitol grounds to remember victims of gun violence and to support reasonable gun control legislation has been cancelled. Our Diocesan offices, ten blocks from the Capitol, were already scheduled to be closed on Monday.
In light of these challenging circumstances that bring immediately to mind the horrific events in Charlottesville almost two and a half years ago, we pray. We pray first and foremost for peace and for an end to violence. We also pray for:
- All who come to Richmond this weekend to exercise their right of free speech, that they do so without violence;
- Our police and all who will work to protect the crowds;
- Our governor and all legislators of the Commonwealth;
- All who have suffered because of the epidemic of gun violence in our cities, Commonwealth and nation;
- All who have died because of gun violence; and
- All who are afraid.
May God, who hears our prayers, give us the gifts of hope and courage in these times of uncertainty and change. May we commit to living the vows we made at our baptism every day as we become more and more Jesus’ hands and feet in a world so in need of his love.
Bishop Susan E. Goff
Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
Pray these Collects from the Book of Common Prayer
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Nation
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
For the Legislature
Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those who hold office in this Commonwealth and this city of Richmond the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Human Family
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.