Remembrance of Lives Lost on April 15th in Indianapolis
The following was written for and delivered at a community remembrance event on May 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium sponsored by the Sikh community. Remembering and celebrating the lives lost as a result of the mass shooting on April 15, 2021 at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis . . .
Good afternoon. My name is Rev. Brian Shivers. I am honored to be here and to serve as the chair of the board for the Center for Interfaith Cooperation here in Indianapolis, IN. The CIC, under the leadership of our director, Charlie Wiles, works to provide “safe environments, resources, and opportunities for service to increase religious literacy, build empathy between faiths, and facilitate interfaith encounters.” We strive to be “a community that pursues peace through interfaith understanding and cooperation;” and to model what it means to work, play, live, and pray in harmony with one another.
At the CIC, our hearts are still broken by the shocking events of April 15. We weep with all of those in the Indianapolis and surrounding communities who experienced unimaginable trauma and profound loss. We pray with our Sikh sisters, brothers, neighbors, and friends who have been changed forever by the deaths of four of their family members in that one awful night. We lament that we are standing here again after yet another act of senseless violence. We join our voices with the voices of others crying out for unity, for love, for peace, for action, and for change in the face of tragedy. It is our desire to leave a world for our children that is different, that is better; to build a world where no one needs to fear and where all are safe.
However, we also know that our words are not enough. These words are only platitudes unless they are met by a commitment to action for the sake of everyone in our community, but especially those who are targeted because of their religion, creed, ethnicity, or race. Today, we stand in solidarity and commit ourselves to action that will change our society into the beloved community.
I also stand before you today as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church USA and serve on the staff of Second Presbyterian Church here in Indianapolis and as Vice Moderator of White Water Valley Presbytery. As a minister in the Christian tradition, I believe it is time for us to confess the ways that we have failed one another; time to admit the ways that our actions and our inaction have led to harm, injury, oppression, destruction, and death; time to be honest with ourselves, one another, and the divine. It is time for confession. It is past time.
It is also time for people who look like me and who claim the Christian faith tradition to repent. It is time for us to name all of the times we have stayed silent because it was more convenient to be quiet than it was to speak up. It is time for those who look like me and who claim the Christian faith tradition to name all of the ways that we have been and continue to be complicit in perpetuating the violence that dominates our society as well as the ways in which we have vilified those who believe, pray, or look differently than we do. And then, and then we must turn and move in another direction. We must turn and move toward life for everyone; toward a kin-dom where everyone is accepted, safe and celebrated no matter what. It is time to turn for turning is repentance. May it begin today. And may it begin right here, right now with me. There is no better time.
May the sound of our voices in prayer for an end to violence be visible in the work of our hands to build bridges of unity and possibility. May the divine grant you peace in your loss and the promise of a new day together.