Kansas City-area Episcopal leaders respond to shooting at Chiefs’ Super Bowl rally

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Feb 15, 2024

Fans leave the area after shots were fired on Feb. 14 following the celebration in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, of the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVIII. Photo: USA TODAY Sports via Associated Press

[Episcopal News Service] Missouri and Kansas bishops responded with statements in the aftermath of a Feb. 14 shooting in which one person was killed and 21 were injured, following a parade celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs’ Sunday Super Bowl win.

“In the wake of these tragedies, we know one thing for certain — we need to come together to pray,” West Missouri Bishop Provisional Diane Jardine Bruce said. She asked people to pray for the victims and first responders, as well as for the perpetrators.

West Missouri’s diocesan office in downtown Kansas City is about two miles from the scene of the shooting near Union Station. The metropolitan Kansas City area also includes portions of Kansas, including suburban Johnson County, as well as Kansas City, Kansas.

“We also hold children and families in our hearts who experienced the chaos of separation and trauma during the day’s events,” Kansas Bishop Cathleen Bascom wrote in asking people to pray. The bishop said she was heartbroken by news of the shootings, with special concern for some of the youngest fans. Many families attended the parade, as school districts on both sides of the state line canceled classes. “May we open our hearts to comfort those in need and work together to end this sort of violence,” she said.

West Missouri Bishop Provisional Diane Jardine Bruce (far right) speaks during a Feb. 14 prayer vigil at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri, for victims of the shooting after the Kansas City Chiefs victory celebration. With her are (from left) the Very Rev. Andrew C. Keyse, the cathedral’s dean; the Rev. W. James Yazell, the cathedral’s associate; the Rev. Barbara Wegener, a deacon at the cathedral. Photo: Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, via YouTube

Some Episcopal churches in Missouri and Kansas offered special prayers and held vigils alongside Ash Wednesday services.

Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri, offered a prayer vigil in advance of the parish’s evening Ash Wednesday service, with Bruce attending. She told worshippers they had all come together “because tragedy has struck Kansas City,” and she urged continued prayers for those injured and killed, as well as for those who “committed this horrible act of violence.”

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, also near downtown Kansas City, offered a prayer vigil after its evening service, and St. Thomas’ in Overland Park, Kansas, added vigil prayers during its evening service as well.

Fans had been celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs’ defeat of the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22, in Super Bowl LVIII. The game was played Feb. 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings, the one in Kansas City was the 49th to take place this year in the United States, and one of three to occur on Feb. 14 – the other two took place at a hotel and a school in Georgia.

The Kansas City shooting also took place on the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, in which 17 people were killed and 17 others injured.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more victims are injured or killed in one location, excluding the suspects or perpetrators.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.