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Office of the Bishop
229 Queen Emma Square
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 536-7776, ext. 302




June 18, 2015


A Reflection from 

the Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick 

on the Tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus,


The hateful and racist murder of innocent people at prayer in their home church on Wednesday is unfathomable and unacceptable.  The shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, strike to the core of the violence and hatred that are too often taken as acceptable and even expected in the United States. 


As I heard of the murders, my mind filled with the words from Edmund Stuart Palmer's hymn, "Jesus, Son of Mary" (see The Hymnal 1982 #357): 


Jesus, Son of Mary, fount of life alone,

here we hail thee present on thine altar-throne.

Humbly we adore thee, Lord of endless might,

in the mystic symbols veiled from earthly sight.


Think, O Lord, in mercy on the souls of those

who, in faith gone from us, now in death repose.

Here 'mid stress and conflict toils can never cease;

there, the warfare ended, bid them rest in peace.


Often were they wounded in the deadly strife;

heal them, good Physician, with the balm of life.

Every taint of evil, frailty and decay,

good and gracious Savior, cleanse and purge away.


Rest eternal grant unto them, after weary fight;

shed on them the radiance of thy heavenly light.

Lead them onward, upward, to the holy place,

where thy saints made perfect gaze upon thy face.


I dwelt on the line: "Here 'mid stress and conflict toils can never cease; there, the warfare ended, bid them rest in peace." Whatever the mental state of the murderer, the reality of racism, white privilege and hate infect our very body politic in the United States and help create the environment for hate to grow and violence to flourish.  Why must the "stress and conflict toils can never cease"? I fully accept the reality of human sin, but we must stand boldly against corporate sin and institutional racism.  We must say no to gun violence.


Though the faces and presenting concerns are different, the hate and the barriers of society even exist in our Island home.  We do, however, have insights to share with our sisters and brothers on North America.  We Episcopalians in Hawaiʻi must make a difference. 


For these immediate days, however, we must pray and mourn with our sisters and brothers in South Carolina.   I call the Diocese to prayer this Sunday and instruct every congregation to specifically remember those who were murdered in South Carolina.  As we stand in prayer in our churches, how can we not pray for those murdered at prayer in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 


O God, the King of saints, we praise and glorify your holy Name for all your servants who have finished their course in your faith and fear: for the blessed Virgin Mary; for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and especially this day for the martyrs of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, and we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Your servant in Christ Jesus,



The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
and The Episcopal Church in Micronesia