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Bishop Escobedo-Frank’s Letter in Response to Monterey Park Shooting

Beloved California-Pacific UM Family,

Today we learned of the shooting at Monterey Park on the Lunar New Year holiday. Ten beloved souls lost their lives, and others were injured and traumatized. As I absorbed the news over the course of the day, my heart became both heavy and full. Heavy for the suffering of those who lost loved ones and those who now suffer the aftereffects of violence. The final loss of a loved one who leaves this earth due to acts of violence is a difficult burden to carry. I committed myself to continuing the preference for peace and to shutting down avenues of harm in our world. I committed myself to prayer and to action.

But at this moment, we take the time we need to mourn, to hold up those who suffered the most, and to cry with our world over the violence that has come to our neighborhood. Remember when Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and wept?

As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes….” 
Luke 19:41-42

I imagine Jesus’ heart was broken for the things that prevented peace in his world. I can see his tears and hear his cries for the possibility of a world where peace was centered and where violence was undone. I can imagine that Jesus was looking at that particular moment in time and thinking of how it mattered in the bigger scheme of eternity. I wonder if he knew that if we can’t make for peace today, then our children and our children’s children are the ones who suffer the most. I imagine Jesus’ tears were not only for Jerusalem on that day, but for us on this day. And because of the vastness of his understanding of time in eternity, his heart must’ve been broken.

Today we have a chance to wipe away the tears of our world when we decide to address pain with love; to be present to those suffering; and to mourn and weep and wail in hopes for a better future. First, we must mourn, and comfort, and pray.

Then, tomorrow, we begin the work to change our world. We already know the things we need to do. We have heard the list of them before, and they are still present in our minds. Tomorrow, we do something to become part of the wave that makes for change.

But today, we weep and mourn and wail for the innocent ones who were lost and for the world that hopes for a new way. As you pray, and as you hold vigilance for those lost, light a candle of hope in your heart that we can find a way to wipe away the tears of the ages, and even the tears that flowed down Jesus’ face.

To the people of Monterey Park, and the Asian American community, we say: We are with you. You are not alone. May God comfort you, and may you know God is very near. My heart, our hearts, are full with love for you, your families, and our communities.

Grace y paz,

Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank
Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Area
The United Methodist Church