Interim Bishop Sally Dyck: Pastoral statement regarding recent shootings in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

January 24, 2023 | by Bishop Sally Dyck

Interim Bishop Sally Dyck: Pastoral statement regarding recent shootings in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

Image credit: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Dear Friends and Members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference,
As Governor Gavin Newsom has said, this is “tragedy upon tragedy” in California and specifically now in Northern California in relation to gun violence.  Yesterday there were shootings in Half Moon Bay and Oakland and these follow the shootings in Monterey Park.  At least 19 people have been killed in three days in California and many others are physically injured. 

In addition, in the bounds of our annual conference, six people were shot to death in Tulare County on January 16.  This is presumed to be a drug-related shooting but those who lost their lives, including a 16 year old girl and her 10 month old baby, are all children of God, too.
Our hearts grieve for the families of these victims and others who have been injured.  Yet we know it’s not just the families who are suffering.  These persons are part of many networks of love and support in their lives, including social clubs, religious organizations, community groups and more. All who knew and loved them are grieving, unconsolably. In fact this violence rocks our communities, even the regions and our state to the core. 
How can this be happening in our state?  We have some of the most stringent gun laws.  And yet we know guns are readily available here and across the country.  How can this be happening in our nation which reports 44,290 gun violence deaths in 2022, including 314 children?  More than 69 people have been killed in mass shootings (where more than 4 are killed) during these first weeks of January 2023. We acknowledge our fear when these incidents happen in all kinds of venues.  “God (be) our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Federal gun laws are needed but it’s not just laws that are needed.  We need to provide a witness for peace that decries the violent use of guns.  We need to promote resources for persons who are struggling during these days of an increased mental health crisis across our country.  We must be vigilant in prayerful discernment and public witness to our government officials and within our communities. We have a gun violence pandemic in our nation as evidenced within this year alone and we must commit ourselves to facing it. 
As the President of the General Board of Church and Society, here are a couple resources for study and action, including a Bible study: and
As people of faith, we need not apologize for praying but we must also act and speak.
God of peace, we remember all those who have died in incidents of mass gun violence in this nation’s public and private spaces. We especially remember those in our local communities this week and in the past.
All those who have died in any incident of gun violence.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
For those of us who are charged with being peacemakers, strengthen us to do your will.
For survivors of gun violence.
Grant comfort and healing.
Hear us, Lord.
For those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Grant peace.
Hear us, Lord.
For those first responders who care for victims of gun violence.
Protect and strengthen them.
Hear us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
In Christ’s name,
Bishop Sally Dyck
Interim Bishop

Bishop Sally Dyck is currently serving the California-Nevada conference as Interim Bishop and as the Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops. She is a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 2004-2020.