Bishop Goff's Statement on the Shootings in San Jose: An Invitation to Act

May 27, 2021
Another mass shooting. This time in San Jose, California. This time the shooter killed nine and grievously injured more before killing himself. California Governor Gavin Newsom decried the “sameness and a numbness to these incidents.” “What the hell’s going on in the United States of America?” he lamented in a news conference, his voice filled with emotion. “What the hell’s wrong with us? And when are we going to come to grips with this?”
Each time a publicized mass shooting occurs, we pray for the victims and their families. We pray for an end to gun violence. Our prayers are powerful -- AND God is calling us to do more. So, I parallel Governor Newsom’s question with my own; “What in heaven’s name must we in the Diocese of Virginia say and do about gun violence?”
Because it’s not just about the widely publicized episodes of shootings, it’s the daily violence to which we’ve become numb. Since 2014, 2,791 Virginians have died in gun violence, and 6,568 have been injured. Since 2014, there have been 67 mass shootings in Virginia.* Some are known and have been publicized nationwide, others have received little attention -- especially when the victims are poor and persons of color.
Our usual responses to gun violence are far too little. How in God’s name are we to act so that we Virginia Episcopalians will be a part of ending this scourge, this deadly sin?  Many of you have experience and ideas about how we as Christians should respond. How can we be true to our calling in the Catechism “to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world?” How can we find ways to “speak the truth in love” to one another even when we disagree? So, let’s talk. Let’s get together via ZOOM and talk about our diocesan voice and our diocesan response. Please write to me at to let me know of your interest and we will then gather to pray, to learn, to plan, to act. 
Faithfully yours,
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority
The Third Song of Isaiah    
          Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19
Arise, shine, for your light has come, * 
     and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; * 
     deep gloom enshrouds the peoples. 
But over you the Lord will rise, * 
     and his glory will appear upon you. 
Nations will stream to your light, * 
     and kings to the brightness of your dawning. 
Your gates will always be open; * 
     by day or night they will never be shut. 
They will call you, The City of the Lord, * 
     The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 
Violence will no more be heard in your land, * 
     ruin or destruction within your borders. 
You will call your walls, Salvation, * 
     and all your portals, Praise. 
The sun will no more be your light by day; * 
     by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.