St. Mark's Stories

In the face of the continuing and uniquely American plague of gun violence

A Prayer of Bishop Goff

In the face of the continuing and

uniquely American plague of gun violence


Holy God

God of Peace

God of Justice

Giver of Life,

We mourn, we lament, we rage

as the scourge of gun violence

in our land continues unabated,

as the uniquely American

plague of gun violence slaughters

our siblings, our parents, our children.

Just last evening it struck in an Episcopal Church

during a potluck supper.

Many in the Diocese of Virginia

know the rector and people of

St. Stephen’s in Vestavia Hills, Alabama.

We know how they gathered last night

when random and senseless violence

changed their world.

We know because we gather as they did

to enjoy the ordinary ministry of community.


Every time the sin and evil

of gun violence strikes,

we are traumatized again. 

And again,

because those killed and injured

are our family. 

They are us.


God, we mourn, we lament, we rage.

We organize and march.

We write our Senators and Congress members.

We go to Washington and meet with them in person.

We engage the legislative process and the gun lobby

through Bishops United Against Gun Violence,

our Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

and the Episcopal Public Policy Network. 

We adopt General Convention resolutions.

We wear orange stoles and orange clothes

as a sign of our commitment.

We gather and vote and listen and learn.

And we pray. Oh, how we pray.

For hope. For faith. 

For an end to this brutal bloodshed.


And still so little seems to change.

We feel helpless in the face of a culture

that chooses the right of an individual to bear arms,

any and all arms without restriction,

over the right of all people to life, liberty

and the pursuit of happiness.

We fall prey to hopelessness

when members of our human family

are slaughtered day after day, week after week. 


But we are not helpless.

We are not without hope.

We hope in you, powerful God, to turn the tide,

To help us turn the tide of public opinion at last.

To turn the tide of what we Americans will tolerate.

To turn the tide of our uniquely American

love affair with guns into a love affair with life. 

To turn the tide as we make distinctions between 

gun ownership and gun violence

so that this scourge will end at last.


Save us from helplessness.

Save us from hopelessness.

Teach us how to be your partner

in turning the tide

for the sake of Life.




by Bishop Susan Goff  | 

The Cost of Indifference

The Cost of Indifference
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
John 5: 1-9
Rev. Judy noted in her Sunday May 22 sermon that the man in this gospel story had been ill for 38 years. By first century Palestine standards that was almost a lifetime. In all these years, in his entire lifetime he had been ignored. When I teach the children about Jesus's miracles I always tell them that perhaps the real miracle was that Jesus looked at people. Jesus turned his attention to those who were ignored, shunned by society. You see in the first century no one understood germs and ailments we commonly treat and forget. Conjunctivitis blinded people, a broken leg unset lamed people, epilepsy resulted in being labeled as demon-possessed. And all these conditions were believed to have been caused not by illness or injury but by sin. You must have sinned and sinned badly to be in such a state. Or your family had. So this man was passed by, ignored in his need for simple comfort and care. Blocked perhaps from enjoying the waters of the spring as he was not worthy.
Or perhaps it was simpler. Perhaps it was not active behavior on the part of the passerby. Perhaps is was indifference. The cost of indifference for this man was any hope of restoration to life's fullness. The cost of indifference for this man was life.
As it has been for too long and too many in this country. I'm picking one example out of a bouquet of social injustices: mass shootings. How long have we cried out, yelled and screamed, grieved and prayed, marched and lobbied to address the needless death caused by gun violence in our neighborhoods? Years, decades, longer than many of the victims were alive. A lifetime.
And still the violence persists. The disease endemic. And the math is deadly: hate+guns=death. Let us not be so numbed that we cease to see and feel the pain these deaths inflict on family, community, and nation. Let us not be inured to the terror left in the wake of gunfire and ignorance. Let us honor and remember and vindicate the victims. Let not the indifference of empire erase the humanity of lives lost. Say their names.
The Washington Post recently updated (updated!) a powerful litany of the cost of mass shootings in America. It begins in April 1999 with Columbine. It continues year after year with accounts of those killed in schools, stores, places of worship, offices, restaurants, entertainment venues, and in everywhere and anywhere of our daily lives. It ends with Buffalo.
I am embarrassed to say I had forgotten some of them.
It is a brutal read. And this list does not include the domestic violence, neighborhood violence, and police violence (this is the second anniversary of George Floyd's death) too common in our shared lives. There are those in this community who have fought and fought hard - fought themselves to exhaustion for change yet change seems so elusive. Why? Does indifference make it easier to pass by? Does labeling it sin allow us to walk away? Does it just feel like there are too many people blocking our way to make the changes that end this tragic litany?
I don't know. I wish I did.
It has been a lifetime.
Photo from the Washington Post
Sadly, after I wrote this on Monday - on Tuesday another school shooting - more lives lost to senseless gun violence at Robb Elementary in Uvalde Texas. Another 18-year-old shooter. Another update for the Post litany. Another call to action.
Our website has a page, Conversations to Help End Gun Violencewith links to some of the organizations active in the efforts to end gun violence.
Please give it a look and use the resources to advocate for change.

by Malinda Collier  | 

Why can’t we have complex things?

A reflection following the leaking of information suggesting the pending overturn of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade

For the past 25 years of my professional life, I have been a professional social worker, grief counselor, professor and priest. Most of my work, along with my clinical and academic expertise, has focused on reproductive health and mental health. I’ve heard stories that are beautiful and gut-wrenching, I have held confidences shared behind closed doors and companioned people through some of the most difficult and complex situations and decisions of their lives. I’m someone who reads, thinks, ponders and holds nuanced ethical positions on a host of issues because I understand the complexity of life through the experiences of others.

These recent days have been trying times for my soul.

Read more

by Rev. Sarah Ky Price  | 

Covid Updates April 2022

Covid Update: As the number of COVID cases continues to decline in Richmond and the surrounding counties, St. Mark’s vestry, clergy and staff are deeply grateful for your patience and grace in our shared response to this pandemic. As we have followed the CDC guidelines and our Bishop’s guidance, Richmond is now in the “green” or LOW transmissions, and we are able to make decisions about masking, distancing and singing. (If you are interested in learning more about this new guidance, please visit the CDC’s Data Tracker) 
We have made the decision to re-incorporate congregational singing into our worship.  As of April 24 masks are optional however we do still practice social distancing.  Unless there is any change in direction from the Bishop's office, or increase in COVID risks as evaluated by our Vestry, we will continue as it is safe to incorporate other aspects of our shared worship.
St. Mark’s will continue to encourage participation in our Zoom service, Whether we are in-person or in the Zoom “pews” we love seeing each other and sharing worship. We welcome any feedback that would help us better meet your worship needs, especially as we walk through this period of transition. 
We have much to be grateful for and much to hold close.
The Vestry & Interim Rector
  • Masks are optional
  • Social distancing and minimal physical contact (three feet minimum between unrelated persons)
  • Childrens' Worship this Sunday at 10:45am (ages 4-11)
  • Nursery is open at 10:15 (limit of three children under 4)

Posted 4/20/2022

Broken Glass and Broken Lives

Early one December morning a sadly befuddled soul took a brick and beat a hole in our side door glass. The police responded to the alarm to find this man attempting to go to sleep on my office floor - no matter that the siren was blasting across the neighborhood. When I arrived, I saw the two pillows and my knitted shawl he had pulled down off a chair to make his bed. It was a pitiful scene. I was grateful to hear from the police officer that this man now in custody would go the mental health sector of our justice system, not the criminal courts. For while indeed he did damage to our door and enter our building, he had made no effort to steal or vandalize. Having been released from the hospital, he told the officers he just wanted to get in out of the cold. Clearly, he is in need more of care than jail time.
There are so many broken human beings in our city. People who for various reasons find themselves alone and cold, desperate, and irrational - not able to reason through behavior and its consequences. I ask you to pray for this person and all like him who are in need of help our current health and justice systems seem hard pressed to deliver. 
Our wound will be repaired – a temporary repair already in place and the Church Insurance Company alerted to the damage. It is for us just glass and inconvenience. 
For this person though it is more trauma upon whatever already clouds his mind and reason. Please pray that this man’s wounds be healed and that his life be made whole. And when you have prayed - advocate for better access to mental health care, shelter and affordable housing, and support for those broken in our city.
NAMI Virginia (National Alliance on Mental Health) is the local affiliate of the national organization providing support, education and advocacy around mental health issues. Their Advocacy page lists upcoming hearings and public policy issues around mental health.
Richmond Behavioral Health is our city service and advocacy organization. This page lists some of their services.

by Malinda Collier  |