Our service on Sunday, July 10th, 2016, at Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church opened with this litany, adapted from that offered by Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Creve Coeur, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown in 2014. Their clergy shaped the litany based on a statement by the young adult group of the Union of Black Episcopalians. The collects are from the Book of Common Prayer.
Without the prophetic message Presiding Bishop Michael Curry shared on social media, or the helpful links the national Episcopal Church provided, we would not have found this liturgical witness, which so powerfully expresses our community’s grief and lament.
I am grateful for our common worship in the Episcopal Church, which unites us with the whole Anglican Communion in sorrow and in joy. The Eucharist nourishes and strengthens us that we might strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
In response to the multiple killings of this past week, we join in prayer for the repose of the souls of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, LeVonte King Jason Jones, and Micah X. Johnson.
O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servants, and grant them an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
In response to the demonstrators who have gathered to peacefully express their outrage, anger and frustration at the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, we reaffirm our Baptismal vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” and we pray,
Almighty God, whose Son forgave his enemies while he was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen
For law enforcement and all who gather to protect the protesters, the media, our community, and other areas in troubled times, we pray,
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping the men and women summoned to serve and protect us in times of conflict. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be. Uphold, guide and protect them. Make them wise in the exercise of their authority, correct them in any error, protect them from danger, and make them instruments of peace. Amen
In response to the looting, property damage, and violence done in the midst of the conflict, we pray,
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
In response to the lasting effect this situation will have on young black residents across the country; how they will relate to police officers in the future, how they will believe in their deep worth as children of God, claim their rights to dignity and justice, and for our willingness to join in solidarity, together with them, we pray,
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen