A pastoral letter on the Oxford High School shooting
November 30, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
This afternoon, the familiar hum, chatter, laughter, and learning of the school day at Oxford High School in Oakland County was shattered by gunfire. A fifteen-year-old sophomore from the high school is in custody for allegedly firing 15-20 shots from a semiautomatic handgun. Three students are dead. Eight others, including a teacher, are injured.
The typical sounds of a school day shattered by gun fire, and so, too, our hearts. Three young people will never receive their diplomas from Oxford High. Eight others will need to heal from their wounds, while many will need to address their trauma.
Our hearts break, and we need to let them. Our hearts break for the dead and their grieving families. Our hearts break for the injured. Our hearts break for the many traumatized. Our hearts break, and we need to let them. We must never allow ourselves to grow numb to the tragic consequences of gun violence in our society.
Let us pray from our broken hearts. Pray for the families of those who have died, whose shock lingers and whose pain and grief run deep. Pray for those injured, those whose wounds are physical and visible, and those wounded in heart, mind, and soul. Pray for the healers and pray that we might be people who bring healing in the name of Jesus. I am grateful for our churches and pastors in the area who are doing just that.
And pray that we might grow in our courage and capacity for engaging in conversations that move us toward actions that diminish such violence. The world does not have to be like this. Children should not have to wonder or worry about whether they will come home from school alive. Pray that we might hear anew God’s call to be repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in, blessed peacemakers in the name and spirit of Jesus (Isaiah 58:12, Matthew 5:9).
Grace and Peace,
David Alan Bard
Michigan Area Bishop
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.