Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
I join Presiding Bishop Michael Curry who has invited all Episcopalians and people of faith and good will to pray for those who have died in Paris, those who were injured, families of those who were killed or wounded and those who are helping in anyway. He has also invited us to pray for the whole human family. We must pray for the people of France, and of Paris, in particular, who have endured, yet again, a terrorist blow. The despicable and criminal attacks in Paris remind us that the world in which we live is not the world God longs for. A letter written by the Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris has been widely shared through social media and may be found below. It offers us a thoughtful reflection from someone in the midst of the situation to how we all might best respond. I invite you to read it and to continue to pray for peace.
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 glory, now and forever.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes, D.D.
Bishop of New Jersey
So many friends and colleagues have written in the last 18 hours expressing support, promising their prayers, and asking what they could do. I cannot tell you how incredibly important this has been to all of us at the American Cathedral. It is a very fearful time, and we are still bewildered and unsure. Knowing we have prayers coming from around the world, that we have a cloud of witnesses, and that we are so inextricably connected in the Body of Christ makes all the difference.
What can you do? First of all, I ask your prayers:
* for the victims, those who died and those wounded
* for their families
* for all those who have helped and are helping
* for all who protect us
* for the city of Paris, and especially our Cathedral community
* for all those whose anger, fear and hatred lead them to commit such acts
* for hope, for light in the darkness, and for peace
Secondly, I urge you to give some serious thought to next steps. Your expressions of support are strong and genuine - but where do they go? We have all held each other up before - after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, for instance, and after 9/11 - and shared a strong sense of unity. I'm not sure where I am going with this; I only mean that our prayers must lead us to action. Here in France I suspect there will be very, very strong anti-Muslim sentiment, and one thing we must do is stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and foster conversation and understanding. I think we also need to work harder to care for the flood of refugees fleeing terror in their own countries - work for immediate care and for political solutions. You will need to find your own mission in the US, but I know that it must involve continued dedication and commitment to making justice and making peace, and being a light in the darkness.
Thank you again, my brothers and sisters.
Dean, The American Cathedral in Paris