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Last night I got a call from our 15-year-old son, Kamden, who is with my husband as he finishes his 9th-grade year at East Lansing High School. This summer, he and my husband, Kee, will join me here in Iowa. Kamden called to tell me that he had been evacuated from an after-school basketball game, because there was an active shooter near the Michigan State University campus. He is safe and at home, with schools in the area closed today to allow kids and teachers the space and time to process what has happened.
Monday evening, a man went to various locations on the campus and shot people. He later killed himself. Three students are now dead, and five are being treated for critical injuries at a local hospital. At the church where I was once pastor, University United Methodist Church, staff and Wesley Foundation students spent much of last night’s horrific hours locked in the basement of the church. People called family members cried and prayed.
East Lansing is a small, close-knit community. There is only one middle school and one high school, and many of those middle and high school students will one day attend MSU. Many residents in the community have family members at the college. The community is reeling in shock and grief, like every community that has experienced this uniquely American tragedy. My fear is that we have become numb to such violence—that is, until it happens to us, in our neighborhoods, near our churches, near our children.
My prayer is that we don’t, in our sense of powerlessness, become so numb that we cease to act. If we do, we risk becoming like the faithless leaders that Jeremiah describes. “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14.
There is no peace when we have already experienced 67 mass shootings, by one count, in the first six weeks of this year. The wounds of the people who have lost lives and loved ones and those who have been traumatized by mass shootings are dire. Let us act to end gun violence and let us pray for the many victims it continues to claim.
Please keep the United Methodists who are responding to this tragedy in prayer as they seek to find healing for the East Lansing Community.
Bishop Kennetha J. Bigham-Tsai