A response to the shootings in Hesston and Newton, Kansas

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] The Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas, has written the following letter to the members of his diocese about the Feb. 25 shootings in the diocese.

February 27, 2016

Dear Friends,

Like so many of you, I was shocked and saddened by the multiple shootings that took place in Newton and Hesston on Thursday. I was spending the night in Wichita and was only about 30 minutes from where the shootings took place. Four people were killed, including the shooter, and 14 others were wounded, 10 critically. I was still thinking about the senseless deaths in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last week by a random shooter, and now there is news of another multiple homicide shooting in Belfair, Washington.

The 2014 shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park still remain very much in my mind, and we must ask the obvious question: When will this senseless violence stop? When will we find the resources to care properly for those who are mentally ill in our society? When will we find the willpower to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have access to them? When will we break the grip that gun manufacturers and their lobbyists have on our city governments and state legislatures?

The movement toward “more guns everywhere” clearly is not making us safer. Dodge City at the height of the Wild West had more effective gun control laws than we currently enjoy. Guns in bars, guns on college campuses, guns in church, are creating an unsafe environment.

It is too simple to suggest that greater access to weapons contributed to this particular tragic episode. But in cultures where there is more limited access to high-capacity, military-grade weapons, there are fewer mass shootings. It really is within our power to create safer communities for our families.

Jesus said the peacemakers in a society are “blessed.” May we continue to find ways of making peace and working toward reducing the violence in our culture.

I urge all congregations to include this prayer in their worship tomorrow, with thanks to the Reverend George Wiley, our Canon Pastor, for it.

Our God, creator of life and author of peace, we turn to you in shock at new violence in our country; we turn to you in grief for our brothers and sisters killed or wounded in Hesston; we turn to you in perplexity about eruptions of hatred and murder. We turn to you because you are our safety, our rock, our light in darkness. You know all that is marred and bent in us and in our world. So finally we turn to you in hope: bring good out of evil; comfort those in agony; and through the power of your Holy Spirit, fill us and this world with life and concord; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace & Peace,


The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe
Ninth Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas


  1. The Rev. Stephen Mills says:

    While I appreciate the good Bishop’s sincere and heartfelt concern for the victims of violence, a concern which all Christians share, perhaps he would be a more effective leader and advocate if he stuck to theology rather than politics. On the one hand he says “It is too simple to suggest that greater access to weapons contributed to this particular tragic episode.” but then he goes on to suggest just that — and in doing so he uses made up terms like “high-capacity, military-grade weapons”; terms devoid of meaning but designed to elicit an emotional response not grounded in reality. Mass shootings are small percentage of homicides especially compared with the violence of the inner city and the weapons the bishop is apparently referring to are used in only a small percentage of crime. They do, however, make excellent self defense weapons which is why police departments almost universally carry them.
    What bothers me most is that to link violence solely with mental illness and guns is to trivialize the causes and to keep us in a perpetual state of passing more and more onerous regulations while getting no relief from the tragedy of violence in our society. There are solutions to the problem of violence in our society and they are intimately connected with the problems of the unavailability of treatment for mental health issues, the failure of the war on drugs, and the issues around poverty and the deterioration of the inner cities. These issues are difficult to deal with let alone to solve, but unless we begin to address them we will be locked in the cycle we are in now of more gun regulation, more violence, still more gun regulation and still more violence. What we need is not empty rhetoric laced with loaded terms but a willingness to face our problems and seek lasting resolution.

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