Greater NJ Annual Conference for the UMC {2017}

©2017 Shari DeAngelo

A Call to Prayer and Action from Bishop Schol

February 15, 2018 | Messages from the Bishop

Our bodies and spirit are interconnected just as faith and works are interconnected. – James 2:26

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This morning, people of faith across the country will be calling for prayer for the students, faculty, parents and first responders of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. We grieve with the families, students and community in the midst of their pain and shock at such a terrible act. I call the people of Greater New Jersey to join in prayer for those suffering not just today, but in the days and weeks ahead as the reality of grief spreads throughout the community.

Prayer is powerful. Prayer unifies, clarifies and deepens our faith. Prayer can change the world. We use prayer to lift our concerns, we share our deepest agonies and we cry out to God. Through prayer God answers and God’s message to us is clear. Our prayers to God call us to action.

It is never harder to have these conversations with God than in the midst of tragedies of senseless violence. We’ve committed ourselves to pray for other similar tragedies. Yesterday’s violence in Florida is the ninth deadly shooting in a school over the last year. As you pray for the people of Parkland, Florida, I ask you to include in your prayer the other communities who have witnessed senseless death and tragedy by gun violence in schools in the last year: Salvador B. Castro Middle School in California, Marshall County High School in Kentucky, Italy High School in Texas, Aztec High School in New Mexico, Rancho Tehama Elementary School in California, Mattoon High School in Illinois, Freeman School in Washington and North Park Elementary School in California.

I call you to bring your prayers to your worship this weekend. Share your prayers with your congregations and in your small groups. I call you to discern together how your prayer can turn into action. What will you do to break the cycle of violence in our communities? How can you help your community address the social conditions that lead to this violence: mental illness, racism, poverty, addiction, social isolation and bullying? Our founder, John Wesley, called us to personal holiness and social holiness. Personal holiness will deepen your prayer life at this time but what does social holiness look like in the face of senseless violence in our schools? How do you bring body and spirit, faith and works together? Let’s all commit to see every person as made in the image of God, challenge people with extremist views, support programs that work with mental illness in our communities, address bullying, reach out to the isolated, never let a comment that degrades another person or gender or race go unchecked, and model hearts of peace in our living.

There are resources on the web for ways schools, parents and communities can take action. At the bottom of this letter, I include a list of five ways to stop school violence from a parenting website. While these guidelines are targeted to parents, I believe these are good practices in our congregations and starting points for discussion on actions for our churches to break this cycle of violence.

There is evil in the world but it does not mean that we allow evil to go unchecked. Through Christ Jesus, we can overcome the evil in this world and heal lives, schools and communities. Living a life of faith that is practiced by doing the right thing in the face of evil and violence is connecting body and spirit and in these times, the interconnection is even more critical. Join me in prayer and action to end violence.

Keep the faith!


Bishop John Schol
The United Methodist Church
of Greater New Jersey

How To Stop School Violence?
Parents and teachers need to collaborate to prevent school violence. Here are a few ways you can help prevent and stop school violence:

  1. Praise:
    1. Praise and encourage children for their good behavior.
    2. Make sure to highlight all their achievements and take pride in the same.
    3. Reward children for their achievements and help them set positive goals.
  2. Watch Out For Signs:
    1. Always watch out for any sign of violent behavior.
    2. In case of aggressive behavior, find out its cause and offer solutions that can help resolve the conflict.
    3. Speak to a student counselor if the signs of aggression increase.
  3. Show Your Love:
    1. Love and attention can treat most issues related to childhood trauma.
    2. Always show your child that you care and trust him.
    3. Be there for your child whenever he needs you.
  4. Know The Friends:
    1. Make an effort to know your child’s friends.
    2. Arrange home parties and encourage your child to interact with his friends.
    3. Ask your child about his friends and what he likes or dislikes about them.
  5. Extra-Curricular Activities:
    1. Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities.
    2. Find out what activities your child likes and take him to hobby classes without fail.
    3. Make sure your child is always busy doing things he enjoys

Attribution: Mom Junction