Bishop Sean Rowe of the Episcopal Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York released a statement on the killing of Paul "Pauly" Likens, a transgender teenager who was murdered in Sharon.

Bishop Rowe is also a Sharon native.

Likens' remains were found in the Golden Run Wildlife Area and had to be identified through forensic comparison. She had been missing since June 23 and remains were found on June 25.

The investigation led police to identify DaShawn Watkins, 29, as a suspect and subsequently arrested him. He faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Bishop Rowe wrote about the hate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity saying that Christians must stand against the bigotry, hatred and murderous violence directed at them.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear People of God in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York:

A couple of weeks ago, some of us were attending the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and at that convention we affirmed once again that LGBTQIA+ people are beloved children of God who should be treated with dignity and respect.

While we were away, a brutal crime unfolded near my hometown of Sharon, Pennsylvania, underscoring why we Christians must stand against the bigotry, hatred and murderous violence directed at people who live in danger due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Pauly A. Likens Jr., a child who identified as transgender, was killed and her scattered remains were found at the Shenango Reservoir in Mercer County. A suspect is in custody, and he has been charged with first-degree murder.

It is hard to overstate the horror of this situation. A young person whose 15th birthday passed while she was missing has been taken from us in the most brutal way imaginable. She is not the only transgender child of God to have been murdered, in our region or elsewhere, simply for being who they are. I fear these kinds of incidents are due, in part, to extremist political rhetoric that advocates oppression and discrimination against some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

In my ministry, I have met many transgender followers of Jesus whose witness to the Gospel is deepened by their journeys to live authentically and to be the people God is calling them to be. In our church, faithful transgender people lead in ministries of every description. As laypeople, priests and deacons, they make essential contributions to their congregations, communities and dioceses. Transgender people deserve not only the same civil rights and guarantees of legal protection as any other person, but also the dignity and respect we accord to every child of God. More than that, they deserve to live in safety.

I ask you to pray for the repose of the soul of Pauly Likens, for Pauly's family in their unimaginable grief, and for transgender people everywhere who are frightened by this savage killing. Pray too for the person who has been arrested for the crime, whose life has been destroyed by sin and fear. Most of all, I implore you to stand against hatred of transgender people in your community, your school, and wherever you encounter it, and be a source of God's love for the transgender people in your life.

Faithfully, Sean