Yesterday a Mormon Bishop was shot and killed in his church in Visalia, CA. I wanted to embed the local new coverage but I can’t get it to work. You can see it here.
The suspect is now dead, and no motive is known.
My heart is so heavy for that Bishop’s family: his wife and six sons, ages 3 months to 14 years. And my heart is heavy for his congregation. And my heart is heavy for the young man I know from my previous ward who is serving his mission in that area, who is currently assigned to that ward, who was just down the hall when the shooting occurred and was one of the first to see the Bishop after it happened.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we do not aspire to leadership positions. Such positions, all positions in the church, are callings extended by higher leaders, and our choice is to accept or decline the calling. We do not vie for callings, we do not campaign for them, we do not get paid for our church service, we just do it. This man seems to have died because he accepted the call to be a bishop, a call which is demanding and requires a great deal of personal sacrifice (though there is some speculation it may have had something to do with the company he owned, witnesses say the suspect came in asking for the leader of the church but did not ask for him by name).
I cannot imagine the depth of grief and sorrow his wife and children must be feeling. I cannot imagine how difficult it will be for the members of his ward to go back to church. Church . . . a place that is supposed to be safe, a place that is supposed to be like a second home; a place where we go to feel uplifted and edified, not downtrodden and terrified.
I also cannot imagine how the family of the suspect must be feeling. Grief, sorrow, probably confusion. It is horrible.
Because I have a crazy father-in-law who hates the Mormon church and loves to shoot things, I have contemplated this kind of thing in the past. What if . . . what would I do? How would I protect my children?
Apparently, this bishop took what little opportunity he had to yell for people to get out of the building.
Today my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is suffering due to yesterday’s events.