Updates on St. Stephen’s, Douglas

Today’s Epistle is simply updates on Monday’s fire at St. Stephen’s, Douglas. 

I wish to start with a note of gratitude. The Rev. John Caleb Collins, Vicar of St. Stephen’s, Douglas, has shown exemplary leadership with his congregation and community over the last 48 hours. And people from around the diocese, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion have responded with love, prayers, offers of expertise, and financial assistance. Thank you. 

As some of you may have seen on the news by now, an arrest was made last night of someone who appears to have deliberately set the fire at St. Stephen’s and First Presbyterian Church. It is not a person who was affiliated with either church, and their motive is still under investigation. The detectives and investigators have maintained excellent contact with my office and with St. Stephen’s, and I am grateful for their swift action and transparency. 

It strikes me that all our churches will be hearing the Pentecost story on Sunday from the Acts of the Apostles; we will hear how the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire that rested upon each of the Apostles, and gave them power. The fire at St. Stephen’s was not the work of the Holy Spirit; it was the work of human sin. But this fire may yet set our hearts aflame with greater love for one another, for our neighbors, and for the Gospel. And that is the work of the Holy Spirit. May it be so.

Bishop Jennifer Reddall