Delaware Episcopalians March
By Cynde A. Bimbi, Director of Communications – The Episcopal Church in Delaware
When Carmen, a 16-year old Episcopalian, went to school on Ash Wednesday, she didn’t know that her walk with Jesus during Holy Week would be by his side. She could not have known that the mass shooting that took her life that very day, and the lives of 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, would lead to new gun control laws in Florida, passionate speeches from her classmates, organized marches of millions, and a new, chilling awareness of the depths of gun violence in the United States. The young people – the survivors – at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have organized an impressive, emotional, nationwide campaign against gun violence that has touched many people in different ways. The campaign has stirred this nation from coast to coast to new depths. Why? Because it is being led by the very people who were hiding in closets in fear for their lives, running down the halls away from gun shots, watching friends and teachers die, and finally texting their loved ones – for what they thought could be the last time. Their lives were forever changed as a shooter brandished an AR15 wildly and relentlessly at innocent teenagers and adults, killing many and terrorizing all. They are the generation of mass shootings. A cold reality.
The Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown, XI Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Delaware, has urged us all to pray first, pray while we act, and pray after the fact. Bishop Brown, clergy, and parishioners in the Episcopal Church in Delaware took a step on Saturday, March 24 as they joined thousands of people across the State of Delaware marching against gun violence and for stricter gun control. Under a blue sky and admidst a chilly breeze, Episcopalians participated in marches in Wilmington, Dover, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, and Bethany Beach. Brown expressed his hope that, “As citizens, we feel empowered to speak, we listen, and we learn. And, as Christians, we are always grounded in prayer. Prayer matters.” Brown spoke and led the opening prayer prior to the march in Dover.
Reginald Daniels, a Delaware State University sophomore, organized the Dover event where participants marched peacefully seventeen times around Legislative Mall. Daniels is a quiet and passionate young man who is committed to his community and clear about his hopes. He said, “I deeply desire a society where people can live without fear and continue to grow as a society without being fearful.” Also present at the march was Daniels’ mother. She exuded pride as she watched her son working to make a difference, saying, “Since he was a kindergartener, he has always stood up against injustice. It is wonderful to watch him live out who he is.”
As we walk with Jesus during this Holy Week we will carry passions, convictions, sorrows, and hopefully joy along the way. Then what? Will we continue to act on our convictions and follow our passions? Will we continue to pray, act, and pray again? Will we always remember those who took their last breath at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or Sandy Hook Elementary or Columbine High School? The Rev. Chuck Weiss, rector at Christ Church, Dover, told his story of why it was important for him to act and continue to act, “After the Sandy Hook Massacre, I was convicted that I was blind to the needs of my neighbors and felt moved to learning more about preventing gun violence and praying with my feet. For me, preaching the Gospel, means loving my neighbor by taking steps like this.”
We pray, we march, we listen, we learn, we act, and we pray.