Standing Our Holy Ground

A Year-Long Look at Gun Violence and What the Faith Community Can Do About It

Young People  |  Urban Contexts  |  Theology  |  Mental Health & Media  | What Churches Can Do

LGTBQ+ Communities  |  Talking About Gun Violence  | Behind the Bullet  |  Law Enforcement

Racial Divide in Gun Violence  |  Sandy Hook Promise  | Trauma and Recovery  |  Domestic Violence

93 people are killed by guns each day in this country, totaling almost 34,000 deaths annually.

This is a public health crisis. Seven of these deaths – every day – are children or teens. This is a youth crisis. Since the Columbine High School massacre there has been an average on one school or college campus shooting per week. This is an education crisis. 62% of gun-related deaths each year are suicides.

This is a mental health crisis. More than 50 women are murdered each month by intimate partners using guns. This is a domestic violence crisis. Individuals in households experiencing poverty experience 4x the rate of gun violence in comparison to households living above the federal poverty line. This is a poverty crisis. African American men are 14x more likely to be shot and killed than White men. This is a racism crisis. Gun violence in this country does not distinguish between demographics – it impacts every socioeconomic group, every faith and cultural community, every education level, every region. It is a true social justice crisis, and it demands both our holy outrage and our holy action.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in collaboration with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, offers Standing Our Holy Ground, a year-long webinar series that challenges the faith community to stand up against this far-reaching crisis of our day.  Touching on a large variety of topics and utilizing those at the forefront of the work and research, this comprehensive webinar series delves deeply into the epidemic of gun violence and explores the ways in which people of faith and the communities to which they belong can respond and act to bring about change. 

Each 1-hour webinar is free to view and features knowledgeable and experienced presenters, provides time for questions from viewers and suggests actionable steps to be taken following the webinar.   The series begins on July 17th, broadcast from the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University.  Subsequent webinars will be held monthly.  The dates, times and topics of all webinars will be posted below as they are confirmed.  Each webinar is being recorded and will be available for viewing on the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s website. 

#1 Young People and Campuses Stand Up to Gun Violence

There is an average of one school or college campus shooting each and every week in the United States. This episode was broadcast live from the Presbyterian Youth Triennium and features a panel of young people and adults – activists, experts and those impacted by gun violence – who are working to address this national epidemic and make our campuses and communities safer.

Featuring: Captain Keene Red Elk, Purdue University Police Department; Kaaleah Jones, Youth Activist, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence; and Teyonna Lofton and LaNiyah Murphy, Youth Activists, the BRAVE Youth Leaders of St. Sabina.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

Download a study guide for this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

#2 The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence in Urban Contexts

Twenty percent of all firearm homicides in the U.S. occur in the country’s 25 largest cities, even though they contain just over one-tenth of the U.S. population. The Presbyterian Church (USA)-produced documentary Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence examines the ripple effect that one shooting has on a survivor, family, community, and society. This episode was broadcast as part of the PC(USA)’S Big Tent Gathering, following a screening of Trigger. The discussion features a panel of Baltimore area residents including clergy, police officers, and activists working to address the gun violence in the city they call home.

Featuring: Rev. Cleoda Walker, Baltimore Pastor and clergy to Safe Streets Violence Interrupters; Major Monique Brown, Commander of the Southern District, Baltimore City Police; and Amy Cress, Director of Community Engagement, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

Download a study guide for this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

#3 The Theological Grounding of Our Gun Violence Policies

How does our reformed faith tradition understand gun violence, prevention, and gun ownership? This episode of Standing Our Holy Ground explores the theology around guns and the most recent policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.

Featuring: Rev. Christian Iosso, Coordinator for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, PCUSA; and Rev. Jim Atwood, pastor and Author on Gun Violence Prevention.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

Download a study guide for this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

#4 The Mental Health Myth: The Role of Mental Health in Gun Violence and How the Media Often Gets It Wrong

Download a study guide for Part 1 of this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

Download a study guide for Part 2 of this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

When a mass shooting occurs, media coverage often jumps to questions of mental health.  In reality, only 3-5% of all violent acts are committed by people with serious mental illness and a majority (65%) of gun related deaths are suicides. This webinar in the “Standing Our Holy Ground” series explores the relationship between mental health and gun violence and debunk the myths/misperceptions surrounding it.

Featuring: Jennifer Bronson Statistician/Social Science Analyst, Bureau of Justice Statistics; Beth McGinty, Professor, Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

#5 What Churches Can Do to Address Gun Violence: Active and Creative Strategies

Gun violence may appear to be an impossible problem.  But congregations can and already are taking action to address gun violence in their own communities and throughout the United States. This webinar in the “Standing Our Holy Ground” series discusses actions that congregations can take locally and nationally to address gun violence including partnerships, advocacy, and community engagement.

Featuring: Margery Rossi guest facilitator, pastor & chair of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group; Roy Howard, pastor, Bethesda, Maryland; Bryan Miller, Director, Heeding God’s Call Against Gun Violence; and Cornelius Scott, Executive Director, Family Survivor Network.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

Download a study guide for this webinar, complete with timestamps and discussion questions.

#6 The Impact of Gun Violence on LGBTQ+ Communities

December 11, 3pm – 4pm EST: Register Here

For LGTBQ+ communities, gun violence is the leading cause of death.  Featuring leaders of local and national organizations focused on LGBTQ rights, this webinar in the “Standing Our Holy Ground” series will explore the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ communities face with regards to gun violence and provide a prevention framework from an intersectional perspective of gender, racial, disability, and reproductive justice.

Featuring:  Annanda Barclay, Interim Chaplain, Graduate School of Theology, University of Redlands; Dee Dee Chamblee, Executive Director, La Gender Inc.; Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán, Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force; and Michael Adee, Global Faith & Justice Project, Graduate School of Theology/San Francisco Theological Seminary, University of Redlands.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

#7 How to Talk About Gun Violence in Your Church

Due to the fear of gun violence, some congregations lock their doors during worship.  Some churches have armed guards. Others post signs stating guns are not allowed on the property.  But for people of faith to prepare for possible incidents of gun violence in our houses of worship, we must first have the tools and the language to productively discuss it in our own congregations.  This webinar in the “Standing Our Holy Ground” series discusses how we can talk about gun violence in our churches and explore various methods of church safety and preparedness for gun violence.

Featuring: Emily Brewer, guest facilitator & Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; Katie Day, Professor, United Lutheran Seminary; Virginia Classick, co-chair, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; Sarah Logemann, pastor and author of G-NS: A Resource for Generous Dialogue about Gun Violence.

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

#8 Behind the Bullet: The Aftermath of Gun Violence from the Shooter’s Perspective

February 6, 2pm – 3pm: Register Here

Behind the Bullet is a documentary that explores a side of gun violence that’s rarely talked about – the impact a shooting has on the shooter. The film answers the question, what does shooting and killing someone do to a person whose intentions are good. The film takes an intimate, non-polarizing look at how taking a life forever changed four people emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, offering a powerful new perspective on gun violence in the United States.

In this episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground”, the director and some of the subjects of the film dive deeper into the ways that their involvement with gun violence changed their lives and how their journey of forgiving themselves and forgiving others has shaped them into who they are today.

**It is strongly encouraged that viewers watch the film prior to the webinar.**

Featuring: Heidi Yewman, Director; Will Little; and Christen McGinnes

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

#9 Law Enforcement Stands Up to Gun Violence

February 13, 2pm – 3pm: Register Here

Police departments and law enforcement officers employ a variety of strategies to prevent gun violence in their jurisdictions. Featuring a panel of police chiefs and violence prevention experts, this episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground” will explore the efforts that law enforcement officers take to prevent gun violence and illegal firearm possession and the challenges they face legislatively and on the ground.

Featuring: Joseph Vince, President, Crime Gun Solutions, LLC; Chief Kim Dine, former Chief of the US Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police Department, and Frederick, Maryland Police Department; Chief Frank Fernandez, former Hollywood Police Chief and Coral Gables Assistant City Manager

Click here to learn more about the panelists.

#10 The Racial Divide in Gun Violence

March 5, 1pm – 2pm: Register Here

Within our nation’s cities, black Americans are, on average, eight times more likely to be killed by firearms than those who are white. In fact, Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide. Yet, in discussions of gun violence and gun control, the conversation often overlooks the gun violence experienced by black communities. This episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground” will explore this racial divide in gun violence and discuss how people of faith can take action to address gun violence while lifting up the voices of those who experience it the most.

Featuring: R. Drew Smith, Professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; Nicholas O’Rourke, Pastor & POWER Community Organizer, Philadelphia, PA; and Robert Hoggard, Pastor & PhD student, Rochester, NY

#11 A Conversation with the Sandy Hook Promise

April 15, 2pm – 3pm: Register Here

The Sandy Hook Promise aims to honor all victims of gun violence by turning the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton, CT in 2012 into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children from gun violence. The organization supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. This episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground” will explore the history of the organization, what the Sandy Hook Promise teaches in its programs for children and adults, and how churches can apply the organization’s initiatives to the context of the faith community.

Featuring: Donald Gaffney, Pastor & Author of Common Ground: Talking About Gun Violence in America; Aimee Thurnberg, Communications Director, The Sandy Hook Promise

#12 One Step at a Time: The Trauma Recovery and Rebuilding Process in the Wake of Gun Violence

Registration Information Coming Soon

Gun violence is an incident of human caused disaster. Recovering from such trauma requires time, energy, and a supportive community. As people of faith, we are called to walk alongside those that are hurting in their times of need. But what does that accompaniment actually look like? This episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground” features a panel of trauma experts and explore the various stages of healing from the trauma of gun violence and the Church’s role in accompanying people in their healing process.

Featuring: Laurie Kraus, Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance; Jim Kirk, Associate for Disaster Response (U.S.), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance; Cece Armstrong, Pastor, Charleston, South Carolina

#13 Too Close to Home: Guns and Domestic Violence

June 9, 1pm – 2pm EST: Register Here

Women in the US are 21 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other high-income nations. This episode of “Standing Our Holy Ground ” will explore the relationship between firearms and domestic violence and the gaps in current legislation that must be addressed to protect victims and survivors and prevent future incidents of domestic violence.

Featuring: Lisa Geller, Policy Analyst, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence; Ruth Glenn, Director, CEO and President of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Shannon Frattarolli, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health