Rev. Jimmie Hawkins Responds to Horrific Shooting in Parkland, FL

February 15, 2018

We are grieving but not surprised to hear of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in which 17 of God’s children lost their precious lives. We understand that a young man took a tool of war and turned it upon his former classmates and teachers in act of violence so grave that it is difficult to comprehend.

Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. And Now Parkland. Mass shootings are quickly becoming a deadly pattern in American life, a pattern which we as Presbyterians must faithfully interrupt. We offer prayers of comfort to grieving families of all of these massacres, and accompany those prayers with a renewed commitment to action.

The 219th General Assembly (2010) adopted the resolution, “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.” That document “Encourage[s] the church at every level… to become informed and active in preventing gun violence, to provide pastoral care for victims of gun violence, and to seek a spiritual response of grief and repentance, grace and courage to resist that violence and celebrate the Lord and Giver of Life.”

The 2010 policy further restates the 202nd General Assembly’s resolution (1990) that called on the U.S. government to establish meaningful and effective federal legislation to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale and possession of guns and ammunition by the general public. Such legislation should include provisions for the registration and licensing of gun purchasers and owners, appropriate background investigations and waiting periods prior to gun purchase, and regulation of subsequent sale.

The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) also called on churches to ensure that “liturgies not only call for periodic preaching on gun violence but also contain prayers for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence and confession of our own complicity in the perpetuation and toleration of violence in all its forms in the culture.” We cannot remain silent!

Gun violence is the intolerable by-product of a nation struggling with the essence of community building. Our congregations are essential to communities overcoming the need to choose guns over love. Let us use this tragic event for good and work toward the “peaceable Kingdom.”

It can be tempting to retreat into isolation and grief after an episode of violence such as this, but we call to you to make your voice heard in the struggle for justice! Here are some action steps:

1. Pray for our President and the United States Congress as they struggle with the issue of gun violence.
2. Email our office to request post cards of a petition to end gun violence to use in your church and local community.
3. Encourage your pastor(s) to preach sermons, teach bible studies, and become involved in the efforts to eradicate gun violence in your local community.
4. Host a screening of TRIGGER, the PC(USA) documentary on eradicating gun violence. Hold congregational and community discussions in your house of worship. Learn more.
5. Write and/or call your Congresspersons and the President each week stating your support for federal legislation to reduce gun violence. Find contact information for your elected officials. Find out how much money your legislator has received from the gun lobby here.
6. Read the gun violence policy statement of the PC(USA) General Assembly and bring the bible study to an Adult Christian Education class – Gun Violence and Gospel Values: Mobilizing In Response to God’s Call

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