I greet you in Christ’s name,
As you know, Philadelphia is suffering from an unprecedented and traumatic rise in gun violence, which may be related to the ongoing COVID pandemic. By the end of 2020, total homicides, of which gun murders are by far the largest component (almost 90% last year), reached 447, up 132 from 2019. These staggering numbers do little to convey the devastation visited upon families and neighborhoods by this gun violence epidemic. The majority of these families live in the very communities of color that the Presbytery of Philadelphia sought to support in its 300th Anniversary by committing ourselves to issues of Restorative Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. As Presbyterians support the Black Lives Matter movement, speaking out and taking action against gun violence is another step in promoting racial equity.
Although the scourge of gun violence may demoralize and enervate, there is potential that life-saving action can energize. With God’s help, we can do what people in other states and countries have done to diminish the carnage from guns, so all people may live in peace, regardless of their neighborhood, nationality, race, ethnicity, class, gender, or sexual orientation.
Through advocacy and action, we are asking that you to join with your colleagues in ministry to take faith-based and grassroots action to prevent gun injury and death. We hope you and your congregation will take a role in a new Presbytery-wide coalition. We are called for a time such as this.
The PC (USA) has a strong stance on preventing and ending gun violence. Two overtures related to reducing gun violence were deferred from the 224th General Assembly to the 225th GA in 2022. Our work cannot wait and now is the time to advocate for meaningful changes in our community and society to save lives. As people of faith, we must match the urgency of gun violence’s devastation and act now.
Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence (Heeding), which enjoys significant Presbyterian leadership, has created and developed a uniquely grassroots and faith-based approach to gun violence prevention.
Heeding’s programs and activities are designed specifically to appeal to people and communities of faith. Perhaps you have seen Heeding’s inspiring Memorials to the Lost, colorful, and portable tee-shirt memorials honoring those lost to gun murder and their families. Please see attached photos, flyers, and a short video.
Locally based, Memorials to the Lost bring people and communities of faith together to build and install them. Other activities include interfaith witnesses at gun murder sites, congregational conversation and education programs, community-wide virtual and in-person Gun Violence Awareness Day programs, legislative letter writing campaigns, and personal lobbying for responsible gun legislation. Each offers opportunities to seek life-saving change.
Heeding is calling on you to take up what we believe is God’s Call to join us in this cause and will arrange a plenary Zoom meeting for 7pm on Wednesday, April 14 to explore further ideas and find ways forward. We welcome your input.
I look forward to hearing from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (856) 371-3038 to join the plenary Zoom and learn more about Heeding’s impactful initiatives. We hope to hear from and see you. Thank you.
Bryan Miller Executive Director
Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence
“that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream…” Confession of Belhar