Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Permian Basin is a vibrant, diverse, and active community of over 250,000 residents. Many work in the oil and gas industry but the region is also rich in educational and health care institutions that service a wide range of clients. While experiencing the boom and bust cycles of the energy industry the region is called home by many including three ELCA communities, Midland Lutheran, Midland; Hope, Midland; and Christ’s, Odessa.
Saturday afternoon word began to be shared that a violent shooter was active in the Midland/Odessa area. I immediately contacted Pastor Bob Barndt of Midland Lutheran and SAWL Mark Russell of Christ’s, Odessa. From them I have been assured that no members of our communities in the area have been personally impacted by this violence. It appears this was a single person who utilized his access to powerful firearms to end the lives of at least 8 individuals with 20 more injured.
Gov. Abbott has given his condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones to this violence. He has also stated that the “status quo” in Texas cannot be accepted. I agree with the governor and appreciate his candid statement. I pray it will be followed by concrete action and real leadership.
Saturday was the beginning of the high school football season in Texas. This is, for many of us from this state, the beginning of a wonderful time of community spirit and hope that this year our team will win district and move forward in the playoffs. Unfortunately this year the beginning of this wonderful time in our communities has again been marred by gun violence. I write this statement so that our communities know we are aware of their suffering and the violence inflicted upon them. Yet I am tired of being asked to write such statements. We need and we should expect action from our political leaders to make the changes needed to ensure the safety of all Texans. If they will not lead, then as Lutheran people of faith, who believe that temporal authority is given to ensure the wellbeing of the people, we can and should find leaders who will.
I grieve the loss of these individuals and all who have died at the hands of gun violence. Please communicate to your elected leaders your expectation they will find solutions to keep our families safe. Until then we rest in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead through the grace given in Christ Jesus our Lord.