Dear Members & Friends of St. John's,
The violence of mass shootings, a scourge of modern American life, touched close to home last night when 12 (mostly young) people were killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Borderline is located a couple of miles from California Lutheran University, our alma mater, and the alma mater of others in our St John’s community. While the identities of all the dead and injured are not yet known, we have learned the names of some. We are passing on for your prayerful consideration the latest press release from California Lutheran University (callutheran.edu/emergency/), announcing the tragic death of Justin Meek, 23, a graduate of CLU. Justin sang in the CLU Choir, including a concert at St. John's when the choir was on tour in March of 2016. As this violence touches close to home for us as Lutherans, we know that we share this grief with others, including our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh still reeling from the recent attack in their place of worship, their beloved synagogue, as they gathered for worship. Ann and I wanted to share our thoughts with the entire St. John's community and ask that you join us in three distinct ways.
First, pray with us for the victims and those who love them: the family of Justin Meek, the family of Sergeant Ron Helus of the Venutra County Sheriff's Department, and the families of the others killed in last night’s murderous rampage. Pray also for the survivors, those who are physically injured and those who have been spiritually assaulted in ways few of us can imagine. Also pray for the family of the man who committed this horrific atrocity.
Secondly, we pray for wisdom, that we will learn to be fearless citizens asking every question as to how and why mass shootings happen and what can be done to prevent them, that the nation will be willing to investigate every possibility for causality and remediation, and that all avenues will be explored, including the often significant impact of war on those returning from military service, the ready availability of guns and other weaponry in our society, and the glorification of violence we observe and participate in at every turn.
Thirdly, pray with us that all who are baptized take our baptismal charge that “we will work for justice and peace in all the earth" seriously - may it become "constitutional" in us, something for which we're willing to take risks, and something we're willing to prioritize, as necessary as safety and security and every basic human need.
Grieving, may we remember our mission: To Live God’s Love in the World, a mission that calls us to engage in critical civic discourse to help improve this nation and be reflectors of the light of Christ for all in need. Join us in this work.
St. John's Senior Pastor & Director of Missional Strategy
& Ann Boynton
St. John's Member and Regent of California Lutheran University Board of Regents