‘Pray, mourn and bear witness,’ asks bishop of Los Angeles

Members of St. Gabriel’s Church, Monterey Park, Calif., get ready for worship, April 2021. Photo/Diocese of Los Angeles

Bishop John Harvey Taylor thanked members of the Diocese of Los Angeles “for your fierce, faithful prayers this week for the victims of the shootings in Monterey Park and San Mateo County, their families and friends, and all members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”

Eleven people were killed in a mass shooting on Jan. 21 at a dance studio in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles. Further up the Pacific coast, seven people were killed and another person critically injured on Jan. 23 after separate shootings in the community of Half Moon Bay.

“Our thoughts naturally rushed first to the people of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Monterey Park. No member was directly affected, but some live near the shooting site or have visited in the past. . . Priest in charge the Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata, senior warden Anne Cheng, and I have remained in touch. Please keep them and the whole parish in your prayers as well the people of Alhambra, where heroes disarmed the shooter at a second site, and throughout the San Gabriel Valley, where members of the closely interconnected AAPI community were especially shaken by violence committed on Lunar New Year’s Eve,” Taylor wrote in an open letter.

“More broadly, like the murder of eight people in Atlanta in March 2021 and one at a Laguna Woods church in May 2022, this week’s attacks provoked anxiety and trauma among those of our neighbors who have experienced lifetimes of racist judgment and slurs, made worse by the scapegoating of China and Chinese people at the highest levels of the U.S. government during the pandemic. Knowing the ethnicity of the shooters … does not mitigate our AAPI siblings’ pain. If anything, it makes it worse,” he wrote.

“The differing truths of different mass shootings don’t change the work we have to do. In our nation, communities, and churches, the way forward is as it has always been. Being curious about and open to relationship with all God’s people in all our diversity and difference, understanding that the beloved community is a plural community, incarnating the whole face of God. Noticing and taking action if anyone in our circles of relationship is slipping into the shadows of fear, isolation, and hatred. Advocating for common sense policies that make it harder for troubled people to get guns.

“And, in these early days, mourning and offering our witness. The Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel invites you to a prayer vigil on Sunday, January 29 at 4 p.m., PST. The Rev. Katherine Feng will preach. The service will include “A Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting” by Bishops United Against Gun Violence. Read more about Bishops United here.,” Taylor wrote.