LOUISVILLE — In the wake of recent shootings in Gilroy, Calif., in the Texas communities of El Paso and Odessa and in Dayton, Ohio, and with the advent of the Season of Peace, the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministryprograms of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) are providing congregations and mid-councils a robust package of resources to help congregations put thoughts and prayers about gun violence into obedient action.
The resources are being mailed this week, so congregations can expect their packet to arrive by the end of the week.
In a letter accompanying the resources, The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, express their gratitude to previous General Assemblies for the wisdom and faithfulness that helped create the programs and initiatives, which enable the church to help “overcome evil with good.”
The package contains nine separate print pieces, including “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing In Response to God’s Call,” a report authored by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy which includes recommendations adopted by the 219th General Assembly (2010); “Holy Discontentment,” a booklet from the Office of Public Witness which details how to effectively organize grassroots advocacy efforts; and “Standing Our Holy Ground,” a year-long series of free webinars on various gun violence-related topics offered by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. A Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) flyer describes how PDA supports mid councils to help communities recover from public violence and human-caused disaster.
“When there’s a mass violence event in a community the local congregation is often the front line in the work of lament. They set up vigils and supply space for individuals to gather and connect around the spiritual work that eventually leads to healing,” said The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. “Additionally, when communities come together to address the scourge of gun violence, they’re an important part of the advocacy and organizational work. For these reasons it’s important for our Compassion, Peace & Justice programs to provide our local leaders access to substantive resources. Our desire is that these materials help churches bring voice and substance to their work of healing and transforming their communities after a mass violence event.”
In addition to print, congregations are directed to online resources including how to organize screenings of “Trigger: the Ripple Effects of Gun Violence,” a PDA documentary film now available on Amazon Prime; We Choose Welcome, a PC(USA) resource which promotes “welcoming the stranger” and includes multi-lingual posters and yard signs, and the “Congregational Toolkit for Gun Violence Prevention” prepared by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
“We’ve realized in recent years that, sadly, the problem of gun violence is not going away or diminishing; it is an intensifying and expanding crisis, a modern-day lament, that cries out to God and requires the action and attention of the faith community,” said the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “These resources are available and will remain available as our congregations accompany those in their communities who walk through the terror and trauma, the grief and healing, the outrage and action associated with each of these incidents. This Season of Peace is a perfect time for our congregations to consider anew their commitment to peacemaking and the important role of the church in a time such as this.”
For more information, or to receive a limited number of additional packets, contact Cindy Rubin at 502-569-5065 or [email protected].
The Peace and Global Witness Offering empowers congregations and individuals to become peacemakers and transform cultures of violence into communities of peace.
by Scott O’Neill, Presbyterian News Service