The senior archbishops of the Anglican Communion have begun their 2017 Primates’ Meeting by sending a message and letter of condolence to the Bishop and People of Nevada following the mass-shooting at Las Vegas, which has so-far claimed the lives of some 58 people and left more than 500 people requiring hospital treatment. This evening, a period of silence was held at the start of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral and the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church led the congregation in prayer.
The primates spent Monday morning in a spiritual retreat inside England’s Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, before the formal start of the business-side of their meeting this afternoon. The shooting in Las Vegas was one of the first items the primates discussed.
In a message to the Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, the 34 primates gathered in Canterbury expressed their concern for the victims of the attack, their families and friends.
“We were greatly distressed to learn of the dreadful events in Las Vegas last night,” the statement said. “The scale of the loss of life and the numbers of injured is truly shocking. We are sending our deepest condolences to you and to the people of your diocese – in particular, the people of Las Vegas.
“We are praying for the families and friends of those who have died and for the many people who have been wounded. We remember, too, everyone else caught up in this tragedy – including the emergency services (first responders). We pray that the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with the people of Las Vegas as they endure this trauma.”
The shooting happened shortly after 10pm Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday 1 October (5am, Monday 2 October GMT) when a gunman – named by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock – opened fire on festival-goers at an open-air country music festival from a vantage point on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The gunman was subsequently shot and killed by police officers. Investigations and recovery efforts are continuing.
Later, leading prayers for the victims at the start of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said:
You are the creator of us all. We are altogether your children.
When one rejoices we all rejoice; when one suffers we all suffer.
We come to you tonight, Lord, with sorrow in our hearts,
for 58 of your children are no longer with us,
and some 500 of your children are hurting physically and emotionally,
and one of your children took their lives,
and they are all our sisters,
they are all our brothers,
they are all your children.
And so Lord God we come before you now with sorrowful hearts;
hearts so sorrowful that words cannot convey.
We come before you asking you Lord, receive the souls of those who have died,
that they may rest in your love and rise in your glory.
We come before you now asking you to comfort and heal their loved ones who weep.
We ask you, Lord, to take those who are wounded and afflicted and bind up their wounds and heal them.
But Lord we ask you to heal us; to heal your human children;
to help us to find a better way;
to teach us to love and not to count the cost.
Heal your human family.
Heal your creation.
And then make us instruments of your peace.
This we ask, Lord God, in the name of your son Jesus, who died and rose again for this world that you so deeply love.
In His name, and for the sake of the entire human family and all creation we pray.