TEC Bishops Respond to New Zealand Tragedy

Also at the meeting

Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop David Rice speaks to the house on March 15 hours after the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Rice once served as a vicar in the Diocese of Christchurch. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The bishops responded in a number of ways to the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 49 died. The morning Eucharist included prayers for “the victims of the shootings in New Zealand, rest to their souls and peace to their families.”

Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop David Rice, speaking at the opening of the morning session, called the attacks “an unprecedented act of terrorism.”

Rice was the bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia when he was called to San Joaquin. Born and raised in North Carolina, Rice was a Methodist pastor for eight years prior to his ordination in the Anglican Church.

He began his Anglican priesthood in the Diocese of Christchurch. It is where his daughter and son went to kindergarten and primary school, he told the house. He and his wife Tracy have a home there to which they will retire, Rice said.

“I find myself as I stand here before you – and I should have thought of this because I was up all night contacting family and friends to see if they’re okay – to have something to say, but I find I have no words.”

He said he suggested to Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas that Bishops Against Gun Violence reach out to Christchurch Bishop Peter Carrell and Richard Wallace who leads Te Wai Pounamu, the Maori diocese, “as an act of solidarity to send our love.”

Rice evoked the statement from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who said of the victims of the attacks, “They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”

Rice said, “Say that with me. They are us.” The house responded loudly, and Rice stopped to compose himself.

“Our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers, say it with me, they are us.”

The house responded, “They are us.”

“Our Palestinian sisters and brothers, say it with me, they are us.”

The house responded, “They are us.

“Those who even lose their way and do harm, say it with me, they are us.

The house responded, “They are us.”

“Amen,” Rice said, returning to his table.

The bishops prayed in silence and then were led in prayer by the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, a chaplain to the house and dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut.

Later in the day, the members of Bishops Against Gun Violence who were at the meeting gathered for the group’s weekly Facebook Live prayer service, held this Friday in the chapel at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center. The vigil included remarks by Curry.

The House passed a resolution committing itself to upholding General Convention 


This is an extract from the Meeting of TEC Bishops in the U.S.A., which, amongst other matters, paused to consider the latest news from Aotearoa/New Zealand on the ‘Friday Prayers’ Massacre of 49 Muslim worshippers in 2 Christchurch mosques.

In the leading picture, Bishop David Rice, Bishop of San Joaquin in the USA (former priest in Christchurch and one-time Bishop of the Dunedin Diocese of ACANZP) is seen addressing the Convention. His first-hand knowledge of the New Zealand scene equipped him to inform the TEC bishops of the situation

The conversation then segued into a discussion of the American gun laws, which challenged the proliferation of possession of arms amongst the American people. The New Zealand situation certainly has alerted the world to the necessity of gun laws which limit the possibility of further outbreaks of lawlessness based on the indiscriminate use of guns and other weapons of destruction. This will be an ongoing issue in the United States – and other countries – where the personal possession of arms is considered a matter of personal protection, rather than a problem for community safety.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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