I'm in Oakland at the annual Episcopal Urban Caucus Assembly where the theme this year is "The Road to Peace" and the panel this morning focused on the impact of violence on at-risk youth. The stories were heart-rending, the statistics sobering and the presenters who work in ministries and agencies charged with stemming the tide were inspiring.
And then I checked my email on the break and found this from my old hometown 'hood of Ventura County:
I don't know if you've heard about the recent fatal shooting of a middle school student in Oxnard, but it appears to have taken on a hate crime ala Matthew Shepherd twist, that is absolutely gutwrenching. At times like these, I'm acutely mindful of the need for Christians to repent and beg forgiveness for the violence we've incited (directly and indirectly) over the centuries against GLBT people. Enough!
I pray for you and the work of Integrity daily. Please remember your old hometown in your prayers and that God may through us to begin some healing work in the midst of this tragedy.
From the Ventura County-Star news report:
A boy shot this week at an Oxnard middle school was pronounced brain-dead Wednesday...Lawrence King, 15, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green School ...was shot in the head about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in a computer lab where about two dozen other students were working on English assignments, authorities said.
Some students have said King was openly gay, although police and school officials have declined to comment on that ... Matthew Puga, a seventh-grader at Green, said King was sometimes teased for wearing makeup and girl's clothing to school. Another seventh-grader, Emmanuel Martinez, said other kids would often pick on King because he dressed and acted differently.
Lawrence King dressed and acted differently -- and now he's dead. A 15 year old child shot in cold blood in a computer lab.
If our hearts are not broken that this can happen in "the land of the free" then shame on us as Americans.
If our eyes are not open to the truth that GLBT people live in fear of their very lives throughout the global communion of ours then shame on us as Anglicans.
And if we do not commit, on this Valentine's Day-of-all-day, to reach out in love and witness to the truth that GLBT people are fearfully and wonderfully made JUST AS THEY ARE -- beloved of God and in the image of God -- then shame on each and every single cotton pickin' one of us. That IS our charge as messengers of the Good News. That IS our call as the Body of Christ in the world. That IS the work we have been given to do in the name of the Prince of Peace and Lord of Love.
So let us ...
- Pray for the repose of the soul of Lawrence King.
- Pray for the child who pulled the trigger and took his life.
- Pray for a road to peace ... that violence may end: in our cities, in our hearts, in our church and in our world.
And let us remember, on this day of hearts and flowers, the hearts that are broken because of violence against GLBT people and the flowers that will soon deck the final resting place of the child who was not even given the grace to live long enough to bloom.
Lawrence King, you deserved so much better. May the God who loved you beyond your wildest imaginings gather you now into Her arms of love. And may we, in your memory, recommit ourselves to making this a world where every single beloved child of God is free to be uniquely who they were created to be.