As the nation comes to terms with the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, school leaders, chaplains, teachers, and parents yearn for ways to talk with and support the children in their care. Below are recommended links, sample liturgies, and prayers shared by our members for use in Episcopal schools. Our thanks to them for sending us these materials.
Episcopal Relief and Development has collected prayers and resources for ministering to children after a disaster, including tips for parents.
The National Association of School Psychologists has exemplary resources for educators and parents.
Hospice Net provides straightforward information about talking to children about death and helping them cope with funerals.
A Prayer Service in a Time of Deep Sadness (The Rev. Edgar Garland Taylor, Chaplain, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Middletown, DE)
A Prayer Service (The Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards, Chaplain, St. Richard’s Episcopal School, Indianapolis, IN)
Deal mercifully, dear Lord, with those who are so broken that violence is the only answer they see. We who wait for the Prince of Peace offer our prayers for the victims of violence everywhere. Amen. (The Episcopal Church)
Gracious and loving God, our hearts are hurting for the pain and loss suffered today by our friends and neighbors in Newtown. Be with them as they grieve, as a source of comfort, peace and strength. Help them to get through tonight and the coming days, surrounded by love and support. Be with all of our children, that they may know the comfort of being loved by us and by you. Help us Lord, to do what we can to heal the brokenness that erupts in our lives in so many ways, and guide us into the way of your peace and truth. May we rest tonight, and awaken prepared to continue your work of reconciliation and restoration, here and everywhere. We ask in the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen. (The Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann, Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Riverside, CT)
Most merciful God, bless all who have suffered trauma in their lives. Support them with love during their time of shock. Grace them with peace as they wrestle with the challenges of each day. Sustain them in hope as they prepare for the days ahead. Amen. (Beliefnet.com)
Heavenly Father, as we gather together today to begin our exam week, as we try to concentrate on the work before us, we lift up to you those who have suffered and those who grieve in Connecticut. We pray for the souls of those lost at the hands of a senseless, evil act, and we ask that you continue to remind us that those we have lost are with you—no longer in pain, no longer suffering. And we pray Lord for those who are left behind in the wake of this terrible tragedy—those who grieve for the loss of their loves ones, and those whose own lives will be forever changed by this act of violence. We ask that you would comfort those who mourn—hold them in your hands, keep their faith strong and surround them with the love and support they will so desperately need in their dark days ahead. Your servant St. Paul wrote that faith, hope, and love abide, but of these the greatest is love. And as we celebrate this season of joy and hope, we ask that you keep us and those close to us in the knowledge of your love—and we ask that you help us to treasure each and every moment we have with those who love us, and with those who we love. We offer these prayers in the name of your Son—the one who gave himself for us in the greatest act of love. Amen. (The Rev. Adam Greene, Dean of Spiritual LIfe and Chaplain, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, TX)
Eternal God, who sends consolation to all sorrowing hearts, we turn to You for solace in this, our trying hour. Though bowed in grief as our loved one departs from our midst to enter into peace of life eternal, we reaffirm our faith in Your compassion and Your ever-present love. May we bear our sorrow with trustful hearts, and knowing You are near, may we not despair. Into Your hands we commend the spirit of our beloved. Body and soul are Yours, O God, and in Your presence we cast off fear and are at peace. “There is no death, what we call death. Is but surcease from strife; They do not die who we call dead, They go from life … to Life.” Randall M. Falk Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple. (Thomas R. Stevens, Head of School, St. John’s Episcopal School, Olney, MD)
O God, who is our strength and our peace: Protect this classroom and all who enter here. Let this be a place of joy and friendship, of learning in heart, mind, and soul, of comfort and forgiveness. We pray for those for whom school has become a place of fear, asking that you surround them with your courage and consolation as you embrace them with your love. Give us wisdom in caring for the children entrusted to us each day and vision to see the future you are creating through them. We pray this in the name of the One in whom we all learn and grow. Amen. (The Rev. Elizabeth E. Hooper-Rosebrook, Saint Mark’s Episcopal School, Altadena, CA)
Beyond Words, a post by the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, executive director, on The Commons: Our Blog.