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THE ASSOCIATE RECTOR’S CORNER: 
Sharing my remarks at the Alexandria Vigil for Orlando on June 15, 2016 at Market Square.   

     Hello. My name is David Crosby.  I’m an Episcopal priest here in Alexandria.  A large part of my ministry involves showing up and being present, listening and praying, and serving or speaking out.  

     I am here tonight, alongside other community faith leaders and city and state officials to add my voice where other voices have been silenced prematurely.  We  gather to remember those who lost their lives in a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, to stand with the LGBTQ community there as they hurt, grieve, and heal; and also to support the LGBTQ communities here in Northern Virginia, throughout this country, and around the world.  

     More than two years ago, in front of the courthouse of this city, I spoke at a Valentine’s Day action as a Call to Love, in order that friends in my church might have the same opportunity as I have to live and love together with our chosen ones in a faithful, monogamous, lifelong relationship.  They are here tonight having celebrated on Monday the anniversary of their marriage in our church.   

     Tonight I stand before City Hall to add my voice to others who call out for action in support of Humanity.  We must, as caring people and houses of faith, stand up to speak out, and to work toward ending the madness of violence in our country against our fellow human beings, especially through the abuse of guns.  Now, I am not against guns.  But I am for gun safety measures that might curb the devastation that is quickly unleashed using guns that can kill, injure, and maim.    

     Two promises we make in the Episcopal Church when we initiate someone into the household of God through Holy Baptism are worldly in scope.  

     One promise is to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.’  As beloved children of God, we are called to witness in gratitude to God’s unconditional love, which has made a new way of life possible for us all.  So we promise to help those who reject or distort the truth about themselves or others, to see that there is an alternative way to live by loving them, and by allowing them to love themselves and another of their choosing, as the God of Love has loved us all.  

     Another promise is to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.”  We believe it right to acknowledge that God’s reign of justice and peace, that is, of
reconciliation, is a reality.  Therefore, we promise to demonstrate in ways both great and small what it means to live together as a people restored to unity with God and one another in the name of our Lord.  

     In those promises, or vows, I have committed myself to honoring and respecting the uniqueness and value of ALL people, whether they be male or female; Straight or LGBTQ; Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or a non-believer.  

     I regularly call for prayers for those affected by any kind of violence.  And while I believe in the power of prayer to bring comfort amidst pain, and understanding out of confusion, prayer must also be paired together with bold, reasonable, common sense action to change, unless we continue to let hate win.  Hate cannot and will not win.  Love wins.  Love will win.  “Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love!”  

     As a Christian, I believe any action or ideology that draws boundaries between individuals, classes, races, genders, sexual identity, and religions is NOT of God.    I believe my baptismal promises and my ordination vows as a priest require I stand here tonight with all of you, but most especially with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, to support their right to be who they are, and to be with whom they choose to love.  

     Those same promises and vows also call me, and us, to action.  It is time that common sense reforms be enacted to prevent the unnecessary tragic loss of life in this country and this world by firearms.  Write your congressional delegate and call your state senator; ask them to reinstate the ban on assault weapons, and to keep those on terrorist watch lists from being able to legally purchase guns.  At least, let’s honestly discuss what could be done legislatively to help with gun violence prevention.  Be counted and be heard.  Stand outside the NRA building in Fairfax and be a visible and vocal witness as many did yesterday.  But also call for increased funding and action on matters pertaining to mental health care.  Above all, what we all can do is to stop blindly blaming people for being different.  

     When you see injustices in this world, be brave and confront them.  Change will not happen unless we demand it!  Hope will not die unless we let it!  Love must win!  Enough is enough!  

     I hope and pray that the hearts and minds of those who have authority over the laws of our country will work diligently and courageously to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.”  

     May the gracious and amazing God who loves us, bless us all. Thank you.