By Lisa Krieg, Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Gail Heisel, La Verne (Ca.) Church of the Brethren, and Mandy Park, Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren
A new Church of the Brethren Gun Violence Prevention Action Team launched in January 2023, meeting four times before early March. The team’s purpose is to galvanize the Church of the Brethren to be faithful as an effective force for reducing gun violence in our neighborhoods and wherever it occurs. On Earth Peace is convening this action team as part of a broader campaign to activate advocates for gun violence prevention.
The Annual Conference statement in 1978 on “Violence and the Use of Firearms” is evidence that the issue of gun violence has long been a concern of the Church of the Brethren. Unfortunately, gun violence has become a more frequent occurrence in the United States with even more deadly consequences now than forty-five years ago. Whether it’s a mass shooting, homicide, suicide, or an accidental shooting, gun violence results in long-lasting trauma and grief. What does the Church of the Brethren have to say in response to all of this? What are specific actions that the Church of the Brethren can take toward the goal of ending gun violence and combating the glorification of guns in our culture?
These questions motivate this national group of Brethren to engage the denomination in search of concerted action. The team longs to hear the denomination’s voice speaking clearly against gun violence, the too-easy access to guns, and the glorification of guns in our culture. They hope to activate local advocates and denominational voices to work towards ending gun violence.
As an initial step, the team is planning a Public Witness for Gun Violence Prevention during Annual Conference this summer, in partnership with local groups working on these issues. The purpose of the witness is to pray, to support those touched by gun violence, and to be inspired to take action after Conference. The team hopes this event can support and strengthen the work of gun violence prevention groups in Ohio and build a network of Church of the Brethren gun violence prevention advocates.
Join On Earth Peace for this month’s gun violence prevention organizing meeting on Friday, March 17, at 3:00pm Eastern (register here) or come for an overview and introduction to our gun violence prevention organizing campaign on Saturday, March 18, at 2:00pm Eastern, as part of day-long series of events for On Earth Peace’s Day of Celebration (register here).
We are especially eager to hear from Brethren who have been active on this issue or who wish to get involved. To contact the team, email Matt Guynn at mguynn@OnEarthPeace.org or Mandy Park at COB-GVP@OnEarthPeace.org.
As the Church of the Brethren, let our denomination’s voice be heard clearly that gun violence must end. As followers of Jesus, let us live God’s shalom into the world by both our words and our actions!