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June 6, 2023–A gunman opened fire on a crowd following Huguenot High School’s graduation at Monroe Park on Tuesday evening in Richmond, Va. The park is on Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus. Two individuals died as a result of their injuries: 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old father, Renzo Smith. Five others suffered gunshot wounds. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson shared a statement on the event below:

“Once again we receive word of senseless deaths due to gun violence, this time at a high school graduation in Richmond. To say we’ll keep this community and the grieving loved ones in our thoughts and prayers, which we will do, seems far too passive and almost callous. These events are now so commonplace that we must do more.

I call upon our annual conference to advocate for any measures the experts in these matters think will be helpful. I also call upon us to be salt, light, and yeast in our divided and violent society. Finally, I appeal to all that we not support leaders who divide and refuse to condemn violence.

The climate of our country, and in many places in our Church, is angry and far too quick to divide between “us” and “them.” We follow the Prince of Peace, who calls us to be agents of reconciliation and to exhibit the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, generosity, and self-control. We must represent Him well.”

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