A Pastoral Word from Bishop Thomas Brown to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine in the wake of the mass shooting in Lewiston
27 October 2023
On Wednesday evening, our beloved community of Lewiston joined the long and sorrowful list of cities like Uvalde, Buffalo, Parkland, Newtown, Las Vegas, Orlando, Blacksburg and Sutherland Springs that have been shattered by the evil of a mass shooting.
As Governor Mills said at yesterday’s press briefing, “This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does. No state. No people.”
We are right to rage against the violence that has come to Lewiston and grieve our neighbors who have died and been wounded. Yet, as Christians, we must also turn our hearts toward the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, remembering that death is never the final word. We must redouble our commitment to work against the culture of violence that ensnares us and holds us captive. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we pursue a future filled with reconciliation and harmony and refuse to let the evil of gun violence extinguish our commitment to the common good.
One organization that supports the common good in Lewiston is the Trinity Jubilee Center, and as an act of hope, I invite you to join me in making a donation to support their work today. Even as the lockdown continues in Lewiston, Bowdoin and Lisbon, the Trinity Jubilee Center’s day shelter is providing a safe place for unhoused community members, and is serving breakfast and lunch to all who are hungry, including students going without school meals and those who rely on donations from Bates College and Hannaford that are not available now. You can support the center as they respond to this crisis by donating online.*
I have found another sign of hope in the bravery of Congressman Jared Golden, a faithful member of St. Paul’s, Brunswick, who yesterday, for the first time, called for a ban on assault rifles. I celebrate the courage he has demonstrated by allowing himself to be broken open and changed by the pain of all Mainers and the needs of the community he serves. I give thanks for his leadership and care as he speaks for us in Washington D.C., and I urge you to join him by taking action for common-sense gun reforms with the Episcopal Public Policy Network.
As many of us endure another day of uncertainty and fear, let us remember that we are not alone. God is here with us, present most of all where there is grief and suffering. As we grieve, God feels our pain and bears it to a depth that is not always possible for us to grasp. In the silence that surrounds our unanswered questions, we can hear God saying, “I am here, in Maine. Come by here.”
God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Turn us from the worship of power. Give us courage to confront our false gods and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence, lack of access to adequate mental healthcare, and the disproportionate impact of violence on marginalized communities. Help us rise above our dread that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. For your dream of a world where all people are safe live together without fear, Loving God, make us instruments of your peace. Amen.
The Right Reverend Thomas J. Brown
Bishop of Maine
*Update November 1, 2023: The Executive Director of Trinity Jubilee Center, Erin Reed offers her thanks for the fundraising support. They’ve now recouped all the funds they set out to cover the “shelter in place” order. She now invites us to turn our efforts to the Maine Community Foundation’s fund for victim’s families as she sees that as the primary need now.