An Interfaith Weekend in Pierce County of Protest Against Gun Violence
A group of congregation/community members and faith and spiritual leaders met at the invitation of congregation members from Temple Beth El and Rev. Dave Wright from the University of Puget Sound to consider what faith and spiritual communities around Pierce County could do together to protest, be a public witness against, and cultivate actions towards ending gun violence.
After the meeting it was decided that the first action would be to utilize the network of Associated Ministries to invite other religious and spiritual communities to join together for a “weekend of protest against gun violence” on August 12 – 14. The idea is that each community could decide what this looks like for themselves – either incorporating into their regular services or gatherings or creating a special event that weekend. The idea is to “be together”, but in all of our own spaces, unified in our stance against gun violence to raise awareness and invite people into deeper engagement.
The group is meeting again at the University of Puget Sound on July 19 at 9:30 a.m. to plan a follow up action which would be a town hall planned for sometime in October 2022 (date-TBD) to gather our religious and spiritual communities as well as organizations with concern or doing advocacy and legislative work around gun violence prevention, other concerned citizens, and elected officials to educate, build solidarity and community around this movement, and prepare for future joint actions and forms of public witness. You are all invited to join us for these planning meetings and the event in October – more information to come.
Attached are some resources and ideas for how your community might be involved in the “Interfaith Weekend of Protest Against Gun Violence”. Again, we are not prescribing anything, but rather inviting you to consider doing something and these are some ideas and resources that may help you think through that. If you do decide to join us, please let Sandy Windley at Associated Ministries know what you are doing so that we can publicize all those involved.
Resources and Ideas
At this point, most of the ideas for those involved, included the following:
- Making your weekend worship / gathering focused around the issue of gun violence. This could include a sermon/homily/teaching/message, prayers and litanies, someone from your community sharing about how gun violence has touched their life, other liturgical elements that raise up the issue, and calls to action.
- Signage: this can be signage within your community that calls peoples attention to gun violence and signage outside of your place of gathering and worship for others to see.
- A special study or session to talk about gun violence to educate, share stories and concerns, and talk about what actions your community might take.
- A vigil or protest sometime that weekend at your place of worship or gathering or within the neighborhood your community is in.
- Invite an elected official to speak on the topic at a regular or special gathering that weekend.
- Screen a film dealing with gun violence and prevention with a post film discussion.
- Make buttons with anti-gun violence messages.
A Specific Example
In May, Immanuel Presbyterian focused an entire service on gun violence, grounded in our Christian understanding of non-violence and our call to walk in the “way of Jesus” which we understand as a call to love, hope, peace, and justice for all in our world.
We had a group who had done a book study around gun violence “present”. One congregation member talked personally about how gun violence had impacted her and the lives of her daughters. Another spoke about the issue from a statistical perspective and also why we as Christians should respond and what some of that response could look like – a call to action. Our minister opened the sharing and closed it tying it into the scriptures that day.
We also included a prayer and litany written by our denomination around gun violence prevention and an acknowledgement of the pain and tragedy so many have endured. We lit candles for victims and had a moment of silence. We also hung signage throughout our narthex and made buttons with messages related to ending gun violence and gave those out.
This is just ONE way to approach this. Please see other ideas above or come up with your own!
Ideas for Messaging on Signs (not exhaustive – come up with your own!)
GUNS DOWN AMERICA
WE WANT GUN SAFE ZONES AND SAFE STREETS
MULTI-FAITH ALLIANCE AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
ALL PLACES SAFE IN OUR COMMUNITY, NO GUN VIOLENCE
STOP GUN VIOLENCE
WE CAN END GUN VIOLENCE
NO MORE SILENCE, END GUN VIOLENCE
PEOPLE OF FAITH AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
GUNS DO KILL PEOPLE
WEAPONS OF WAR HAVE NO PLACE IN OUR COMMUNITIES
LOVING ARMS NOT FIREARMS
PROTECT PEOPLE NOT GUNS
PROTECT OUR KIDS NOT GUNS
Below you will find links to various resources from religious and non-religious organizations. This list is NOT an exhaustive list, and I am sure each of you within your own denominations and religious/spiritual traditions have resources you can also draw from and share with us!
Questions? Contact Sandy Windley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Thank you, Rev. Tad Monroe of Immanuel Presbyterian Church Tacoma, for compiling this summary and resources!)