May 20—Remembering the Victims in Buffalo


Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,

So then, putting away all falsehood, let us all speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members one of another.—Ephesians 4:25

I would like to say that the mass murder of 10 Black persons in a Buffalo supermarket last Saturday was a shocking event. I would like to say that, but I can’t. There was nothing shocking about it. It was predictable. This shooting was the product of active forces at work in this nation right now who are fueling racist-driven hatred and violence. These forces are actively recruiting and indoctrinating persons, especially young white men into their nefarious purposes.

The shooter posted a so-called “manifesto” online shortly before committing his crime using the online site Discord to invite others into conversation about his manifesto and his planned crime.[1] This 180-page “manifesto” included a wide range of right-wing nationalist, White Supremacist anti-Semitic and racist tropes in wide circulation across the country today, all used by hate-groups intent on undermining the values of a truly pluralistic democracy that should be the hallmarks of this country. Sadly, the values represented in his manifesto have gained increasing traction in this country, in our state and even, I dare say, in our church and diocese. They are not even underground. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has repeatedly and publicly engaged in this hate-filled rhetoric.[2] It must be stated without apology or equivocation, these values are both false and are absolutely contrary to everything our faith and our baptismal identity as Christians and Episcopalians stand for.

We are not alone in condemning this hatred. More than 40 members of The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders, of which I am a part; people of many faiths and backgrounds, have issued a statement condemning the Buffalo Shooting and the climate of hatred in our country at this time in our history. I commend it to you (see below).

As our Presiding Bishop observed in his statement about this shooting,

“The loss of any human life is tragic, but there was deep racial hatred driving this shooting, and we have got to turn from the deadly path our nation has walked for much too long. Bigotry-based violence—any bigotry at all—against our siblings who are people of color, Jewish, Sikh, Asian, trans, or any other group, is fundamentally wrong. As baptized followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we are called to uphold and protect the dignity of every human child of God, and to actively uproot the white supremacy and racism deep in the heart of our shared life.”[3]

I pray we will all say “Amen” to that and do the hard work of spreading God’s love.

I call upon all our congregations to remember by name all of those killed in Buffalo last week.[4] They are part of us and we are part of them.

Celestine Chaney, 65
Robert A. Drury, 32
Andre Mackneil, 53
Katherine Masssey, 72
Margus D. Morrison, 52
Heyward Patetrson, 67
Aaron Salter, Jr. 55
Geraldine Talley, 62
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Pearl Young, 77

God bless you and keep you and hold those you love in arms of mercy.

Faithfully in Christ,

Bishop Stokes's Signature

The Right Rev. William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey

Statement from The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders

Hate Will Not Win

Once again as members of The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders we are saddened and disheartened by an act of hate nurtured in the sin of Racism.  The ugly and cold blooded murder of ten Black sisters and brothers, in Buffalo is yet one of countless acts of racial hatred that continues to plague our nation.  This hate-filled sin of deadly magnitude is directed toward the other because of the color of their skin.  This brazen attack reminds us yet again how words of hate breed tragic acts of violence.

We are deeply concerned about a sickness in our society that continues to thrive through extremist groups, hate crimes and political opportunists whose heinous lies sow discord and negate our humanity.  We condemn the toxic racist political rhetoric that is prevalent and increasingly accepted in certain circles. The scourge of racism continues to negate our efforts to address unjust systems that perpetuate inequality for our black brothers and sisters.  This hateful act reminds us, as Religious leaders in our state of New Jersey, that we cannot remain silent as we are confronted by this crime against humanity.  But speech alone will not suffice.  It is time to dismantle the structures of systemic bias and racial prejudice that have been allowed to deprive people of their dignity and their divine given rights. It is time to heed God’s call for Justice for All.

To those families and to the citizens of Buffalo who have been devastated by this evil act, we join our hearts with yours in grief and anguish over this senseless destruction of innocent life.  May God be with you in your time of mourning and bring you consolation.  And may God who is the source of Peace bring Peace and Wholeness to every broken heart.

May 18, 2022

Endorsers of Statement:
“Hate Will Not Win”

Reverend Darrell Armstrong
General Baptist Convention of NJ

V Rev. Peter A. Baktis
Orthodox Church of America

Imam Qareeb Bashir
Islamic Center of Ewing

Bishop Tracie Bartholomew
Bishop New Jersey Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Dr. Tanya Bennett
Chair Board of Church & Society, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference UMC

Very Reverend Archimandrite Ambrose Bitziadis-Bowers
Ecumenical Officer Greek Metropolis of NJ

Sarah Blaine, JD
Legal Organizer Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism NJ

Rev. Charles Boyer
Executive Director Salvation and Social Justice

Mr. Marcus Burnett
President NJ Council of Churches

Rev. Amos Caley
Prison and Drug Policy Director of Salvation
and Social Justice

Ali Chaudry, Ph.D.
Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

The Most Reverend James F. Checchio
Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen

Joan M. Diefenbach, Esq.
Director NJ Council of Churches

Rev. Eric Dobson
Deputy Director Fair Sharing Housing Center

Rabbi Menashe East
Mount Freedom Jewish Center
Interfaith Council of Morris County

Rev. Rusty Eidmann-Hicks
NJ Assoc. of the UCC Social Witness Task Force
Rev. Bolivar Flores
Vice President of the NJ Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers

Rabbi Daniel Geretz
Maayan of West Orange

Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun

Rabbi Arnold Gluck
Temple Beth-El

Fr. Timothy Graff
Archdiocese of Newark

Bishop Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Newark

Rev. Jack Johnson
Coordinator Coalition of Religious Leaders

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale
Reformed Church of America
Synod of New Jersey

Rabbi David Levy
AJC, NJ Regional Director

Rev. Sara Lilja
Director Lutheran’s Engaging in Advocacy Ministry in NJ

Rev. Charles Loflin
Executive Director of UUA Faith Action NJ

Rev. Dr. A Roy Medley
General Secretary Emeritus American Baptist Churches

Rev. Miriam Mendez
Executive Minister American Baptist Church, NJ

Rev. Freeman Palmer
Conference Minister of Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ

Rev. Jeanne Radak
Presbytery Leader of the Presbytery of the Highlands of NJ

Rev. Dr. Joshua Rodriguez
NJ Coalition of Latino Pastors & Ministers

Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree
Clergy Affairs Manager, Office of the Mayor of Newark

Rev. Raul Ruiz
President NJ Coalition of Latino Pastors & Ministers

Rev. Scott Russell
Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer of the
Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

Bishop John Schol
Bishop Greater NJ Conference of the United Methodist Church

Amman Seehra, Esq.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Imam W Deen Shareef
Convener of the Council of Imams in NJ.  Resident Imam at Masjid Waarith ud Deen

Mr. Kavneet Singh
American Sikh Council

Bishop William Stokes
Bishop Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

Bishop Dennis Sullivan
Diocese of Camden

Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney
Bishop of Diocese Of Paterson

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin
Archdiocese of Newark

Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg
Senior Rabbi, Temple B’nai Abraham

Rev. Dr. Robert Wade
Presiding Elder of Camden-Trenton District



[1] See Bromwich, Jonah E. ” Before Massacre Began, Suspect Invited Others to Review His Plan” – The New York Times – Mmay 17, 2022 found at

[2] See Rahman, Kaleeda “Video of Tucker Carlson Repeatedly Touting ‘Replacement Theory’ Goes Viral” on Newsweek website – May 16, 2022 found at

[3] Curry, Michael B. “Pastoral statement on mass shooting in Buffalo from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry” – May 15, 2022 published by the Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church found at

[4] See Jacabo, Julia and Shapiro, Emily “Regular shoppers, a retired police officer: Remembering the victims of the Buffalo shooting” – ABC News website – May 17, 2022 – found at