Texas Tuesday: Grief and Great Sadness

On Tuesdays at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, I usually lead the early morning Men’s Bible Study and then attend the mid-morning, weekly staff meeting. At both of those gatherings today, the first thing on everyone’s mind was the homicide investigation into the deaths of the Rev. Israel  Ahimbisibwe, his wife Dorcus, and their youngest son Jay, who was only five years old. Yesterday their bodies were found in their apartment, which showed no signs of forced entry, after members of their congregation tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to contact them.

According to a statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas:

Ahimbisibwe, a native of Uganda, served as vicar of Redeemer Episcopal Church in Houston and as chaplain for the University of Houston. . . .

[He] was ordained in the Church of Uganda and held masters degrees from both Princeton Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School. After completing graduate research at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he earned an additional masters and doctorate from Rice University.

This evening there will be a prayer service at the University of Houston in memory of these three children of God who were loved by so many people. The Rev. Patrick Hall, Episcopal missioner to Rice University and a familiar face to folks at Palmer, will be one of several priests available to provide pastoral care to students after that service. For the rest of us, here are a few words that can be our prayer tonight:

O God, who brought us to birth, and in whose arms we die, comfort us in our grief and shock at the violent deaths of Israel, Dorcus, and Jay. Surround us, the people of Redeemer Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal students at the University of Houston with your love; give us all hope in our confusion and grace to release Israel, Dorcus, and Jay into the embrace of your mercy; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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