Tag Archives: gun violence

23 Dec #Persist #AdventWord 2018

23 Dec Persist

March for Our Lives – March 24, 2018

The Advent devotional project, #AdventWord  is offered by the Society of St John the Evangelist. Each day a word is provided and participants are invited to share images and/or reflections and to use hashtags so our reflections may be included in an Advent Calendar with others from around the world.

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Filed under Advent, Current Events, New York, Photo, Presbytery of New York City

The idol roars

The idol roars again and
spews forth hunks of metal
that tear tender flesh
wounding, maiming, killing;
its demand for sacrifice
insatiable.

19 May 2018
Manhattan, New York

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Filed under Current Events, Poem

Dear fellow Presbyterians

The Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, vice-moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has posted a call to Presbyterians to “stand up and demand more, both of ourselves and others” in responding to gun violence. Her words apply to all of us; the resources she cites may be used by anyone.

Dear friends and colleagues,

You have seen the facts: we’ve had more mass shootings this year than there are days, we are 5% of the world population and account for 1/3 of its mass shootings, and that there was not one but two shootings in our country on December 2 (and that’s what made the news).

I spent much of last night posting overtures and reports from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I didn’t do this just because I am the vice moderator and feel as though I need to inform others about the resources that our at our fingertips. Each Sunday when I opened the bulletin of my church, I would read, “We are all ministers of the church.” I didn’t really think that much about the statement growing up. There is not a hierarchy. There isn’t a boss who demands certain actions. We are all ministers doing the work we are called to on this earth.

We are a denomination of words. We’re great at policy making and debate. Some would even say experts! But as I watched the news unfold yesterday and today, I am reminded that we are all ministers.

It’s time for us stand up and demand more, both of ourselves and others. We have the policies and words to back us up. We know what the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states about gun violence. It’s now up to us to do something about it. We can no longer avoid the tough conversations with our neighbors in the pews, leave the messaging to the preacher in the pulpit, rely on our pastors to do the leg work in our communities or believe that a statement from the denomination will be enough.

We are all ministers. We are all the Church.

We’ve engaged in a churchwide conversation about the identity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I want us to continue to engage in policy and statement making because it’s a way that we have a voice in the national conversation. But I also hope that our identity involves the local congregations to presbyteries to synods to the national leadership doing the hard, tough work of educating/engaging one another and our politicians in demanding changes to address gun violence. I want to be a part of a denomination that recognizes the historical reality of America that racializes others when faced with fear and decides to respond with love; we need to look no further than the Japanese internment, a black teenager wearing a hoodie, a Sikh man questioned about his Muslim beliefs, or news outlets that yesterday said the shooters names sounded, “foreign.” I want us to remember the photographs of Aylan Kurdi washing up on the Turkish beach and we open our doors to welcome more Syrian refugees because others pull back in suspicion.

Let’s not just talk about who we are as a denomination…let’s live it.

Gun Violence Prevention from 221st General Assembly (2014)

Gun Violence Policy from 219th General Assembly

Resource created for congregations based on the policy from 219th General Assembly

“Trigger” (A film created by David Barnhardt based on the policy from 219th General Assembly. It includes 4 lesson discussion guide if you purchase from PDS)

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Filed under Advent, Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A walk for Jim

I have taken, in my moments of self-care, to walking in support of causes important to me or to my friends. Tonight I do so again. I will walk from 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm in memory of Jim Brennan and in solidarity with all survivors and victims of gun violence, many of whose stories are not told.

As you may have heard, the owner of Brennan’s Colony, Jim Brennan, was killed yesterday afternoon in a shooting in Cleveland Heights.  Mr. Brennan was a well respected businessman and community leader, and his establishment is a fixture on Lee Rd.
A prayer walk will begin at 7:00 p.m. this evening at the location of Brennan’s, corner of Lee and Silsby in Cleveland Heights.  We will walk from there to Church of the Saviour for a prayer vigil that begins at 7:30 p.m.
You are welcome to join the Cleveland InterFaith community in this event.  We also invite you to spread the word.
Will you walk?
See you along the Trail.

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Advent 14: Gather

Gun Vigil

14 December 2012
Remembering those affected by gun violence
at Sandy Hook and across the country

Manhattan, New York

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Tears remain

Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!

So they told him –
those who loved him,
who heard his first cries,
who held him at his birth,
those who would protect him
from a world in which children
die too soon
so often
that no tears remain to shed for them.
Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!
He heard their words
and learned them well.
When gunshots
tore the silence
of the street where he played,
he ran.
For cover he ran;
for safety he ran;
for his very life he ran.
Following the sidewalk;
cutting through the grass;
leaping up the steps, he ran –
his heart racing
faster than his feet.
Sprinting across the porch;
throwing open the door;
stumbling through the doorstep, he ran –
entering what should have been the safety
of his own home.
Filled with fear
and their words, he ran still –
his fingers touched the bannister
as he began to mount the stairs
that led to his room,
the wall beside him exploded –
a chunk of hot lead
ripping through vinyl siding,
spraying drywall,
violating his body,
tearing life from him.
Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!
So they told him –
those who loved him,
who heard his final gasps,
who held him as his lifeblood pooled around him
those who tried, but could not protect him
from a world in which children
die too soon
so often
yet still tears remain to shed for them. 

15 August 2001
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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Tell NBC to Air PC(USA) documentary: TRIGGER

As we seek ways to respond to gun violence in the United States, here is information about a video that could lead to discussion and other resources in a post from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons (daughters) of God. (Matthew 5:9)

The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a policy statement: Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call. The policy called for “the church [to] take responsibility to build public awareness of gun violence and the epidemic of preventable gun-related deaths, totaling more than 620,000 over the past twenty years, with hundreds of thousands more wounded. Even while taking the focused and urgent efforts below to achieve practical solutions, that the councils and congregations welcome discussion from all viewpoints, and that the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy review and summarize responses for the 220th General Assembly (2012).”

Trigger profileTrigger Documentary – Produced by the PC(USA)

NBC has first dibs through May, 2013, on airing a PC(USA)-produced documentary on gun violence. The documentary named TRIGGER :The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence is produced by award-winning producer David Barnhart. Our latest inquiry reveals that many of the local NBC affiliates are not even aware that the documentary exists. We need your help! Please call your local NBC affiliate today and request that the documentary be aired in prime time given the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and more than 30,000 people killed in the U.S. every year by gun violence.   

To find your local NBC affiliate, go to NBC’s website, search by state and choose your local station.  Once on the right website, look for a “contact us” or “feedback” link. Ask them to air TRIGGER in prime time.

Gun violence daily affects communities on levels equivalent with major natural and human disasters, and it is seen in almost every community. We may hear briefly about the victims and survivors of these shootings, but what happens after the media attention moves on and the wider public becomes numb to “just another shooting”? Drawing upon conversations with lawmakers, emergency room chaplains and surgeons, survivors and victims’ families, former ATF officials, police officers, community leaders and others, this documentary shares the story of how gun violence impacts individuals and communities and examines the “ripple effect” that one shooting has on a survivor, a family, a community, and a society. TRIGGER also addresses the critical issue of gun violence prevention (such as keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill) by moving the conversation away from the polarizing extremes that have long dominated the debate and by lifting up the voice and experiences of those who seek common ground and a new way forward. View the documentary trailer. Please call today!  Encourage your friends and church members to do the same.

Resources for responding to gun-related tragedy:

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Movie, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Worship

Once came tears

IMG_0022 (768x1024)It was an intense hour. Tears rimmed my eyes most of the time, once they slipped out. This evening, I took part in a candlelight vigil.

We lit candles and kept them lit in the wind – together. We remembered the children and adults dead in Newton, Connecticut. We remembered our neighbors in New York and other places. And we rededicated ourselves to working to end the gun violence that haunts our country.

Social media brought the word … at least to me.

Rutgers Presbyterian Church posted the announcement on their Facebook page: a candlelight vigil would take place at 5:00 P.M. at the corner of West 86th Street and West End Avenue to honor the memory of yesterday’s victims in Newtown, Connecticut, the victims in the shooting in Portland, Oregon earlier this week and the memory of all victims of gun violence. The vigil would also provide an opportunity for participants to rededicate themselves to working for an end to such violence.

IMG_0016 (1024x606)I read the post in Strawberry Fields – and decided I had to be there.

Arriving a few minutes early, I discovered a group gathering at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew which stands on the corner. Many people brought their own candles. Because some had brought candles to share, those of us who had not brought our own were given a candle.

The number of participants increased – people of diverse ages, races, and faiths. Shortly before the appointed hour, we lit our candles and assembled on the steps of the church.

Opening words were shared, the host pastor  welcomed the group and articulated his vision of a country and a culture where we have greatly diminished violence in general, and gun violence in particular. Individuals shared their pain for the people of Newtown, of New York City, and of all places whose lives have been seared and forever altered by gun violence. Linda Rosenthal, New York State Assembly Member for the district, spoke, noting that this event marked a beginning and that she intends to help the community engage in conversation and action to end gun violence in our city and country.

IMG_0020 (1024x768)As participants engaged in the hope expressing, hope sustaining communal activity of keeping our candles lit in the wind, we voiced further concerns and hopes. We prayed additional prayers. We identified ideas for actions:

  • signing petitions such as this one asking the President to recognize that now is the time to begin discussion on gun control
  • engaging in conversations within their community and faith communities (here are some Presbyterian resources) on what steps to take
  • working to expand mental health care and to ensure access to such care for all
  • encouraging Mayor Bloomberg to become more intentionally involved in the issue; and
  • coming together again to plan and organize.

Small steps, but steps.

Then we walked up W. 86th Street to Broadway. Passers-by joined the group. At the corner we stopped. More passers-by joined the group. They received candles as they did.

We sang – old songs for certain – but we sang. “If I Had a Hammer.” “We Shall Overcome.”

Near the end of “Down by the Riverside,” as we pledged to study war no more, I looked across our group and saw a mother tenderly kiss one of her children, then her other child. Tears slid down my cheeks.

IMG_0872 (1024x768)With the promise that we would continue what had just begun – and the announcement of the Facebook pages where next steps will be posted – the event ended. We stood together for a while. Then we went our separate ways.

The brief hour soothed my angry, aching soul. But it did not comfort me. And I will act.

See you along the Trail.

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Weeping, I act

I continue to weep – but I act. I will find and support campaigns and issues to address gun violence. For example, here is one petition I have signed.

Here is one step that I will take on my own. I will send the following simple message to elected officials on the federal, state, and local levels:

Dear                ,

It is a typical day in the United States. That means that, on average, some 31 people will die in homicides where firearms are used. In addition, on average, firearms will be used in some 51 suicides.
I find this appalling and unacceptable. I hope you do too.
How are you working to change this situation?

Sincerely

When I receive a response – whatever response I receive – I will reply:

Dear              ,

Thank you for your response. I am glad that you are doing name what ever was included in the response.
That does not seem to be working.
What else will you do?

Sincerely

It’s a start. I will do more.

See you along the Trail.

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