I was very moved this week to hear and see students all over the country walk-out of school for 17 minutes at the one month anniversary - to honor those who died at the High School in Parkland, Florida. They may not be able to vote yet, but they do have a voice and they’re asking us to listen. “School shootings can be eliminated without more guns.” Are you aware too, that another public countrywide event is being organized by students for March 24 - day before Palm Sunday?
Because they are asking that adults - you and I - “do something”, as a pastor I feel called to speak up. So I am starting with part of an article from the Southwest Conference and UCC on-line news about the issues and our responses.
I/we really cannot ignore what’s happening in our country in regard to assault rifles and mental health. Likewise we must also pay attention to other social/moral issues like the opioid epidemic, immigration/Dreamers, #metoo/#time’s up, and health care for all. None of these things can be over simplified as politics tends to do; we will only figure out solutions as we keep digging deeper into the problems and listening, to each other and for God.
Advocate to End Gun Violence in Your Community
Written by Katie Adams - Edited by Pastor Mitzi
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only...” - James 1:22
As a country we are still reeling from the devastating shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, and the countless gun deaths that have preceded this moment. Each time something like this happens we ask ourselves, what can we do?
It’s easy to become mired in the cynicism, especially when it feels and looks like your elected representatives aren’t listening; and so it is particularly heartening that the Parkland students, while dealing with unspeakable tragedy have rallied to make something happen on gun violence. Their actions are invigorating the debate around gun safety and have already motivated substantial action.
The United Church of Christ has worked for more than 20 years to end the plague of gun violence in America – with our General Synod ( local church/conference delegates) advocating for sensible, responsible gun policies and legislation in three resolutions passed in 1995, and urging the recognition of gun violence as a public health concern in need of scientific research by the CDC and NIH just last year.
** More information on those resolutions, and worship and bible study resources can be found at ucc.org/gun-violence.
Being part of changes and solutions. Here are some actions/steps you can take to join with these students & demand that our country’s leaders take action to protect school children from gun violence.
1. Hold a Bible Study about Gun Violence
The UCC has a developed a bible study looking at faithful responses to curb gun violence in our communities called Faith vs. Fear. This is a resource you or your church can use to enter into conversations about how as people of faith we are called to be a part of the effort to end gun violence.
2. Arrange an In-Person Meeting
Calls and emails are great But another meaningful way to advocate for gun safety is to request an in-person meeting with your Member of Congress in one of their district offices or in Washington D.C. This is a chance for you to share your story, ask how your Member specifically plans to move forward to keep school children safe, and urge them to take action. After the meeting be sure to follow up with them thanking them for their time and reiterating your request.
Look up your elected officials here: http://p2a.co/Nmw4YqN
3. Write a Letter to the Editor
A clearly written letter to the editor has a bigger impact than you might think. If you specifically mention your Member of Congress by name, their staff will bring the article to their attention. This is another powerful way to let your legislator know what you think, and it can also inspire other people in your community to get involved.
Start by identifying yourself and your connection to the community. Express that, as a person of faith, speaking out against gun violence is one of the ways you live out Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors. Then talk about why you care about this issue. This is your chance to talk about how gun violence has affected you and your community and why it is so important for Congress to take action.
4. Join the March for Our Lives
On March 24 the students of Stoneman Douglas are hosting a march in Washington to end gun violence. There are a number of sister marches being organized around the country in concert with the one in D.C.
If you are coming to DC, let our Washington Office know so they can loop you in on any UCC specific updates:
5. Host a Postcard Party
Write postcards to your member of congress asking them to not support the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act and to take substantial action to prevent gun violence. This can be something you do with friends or a youth group.
Find this and other resources via ucc.org/gun-violence