Leaders and members of Grosse Pointe Memorial Church will be leading Sunday morning conversations about gun violence in America. Why? According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2017 was the deadliest year in the United States when it comes to mass shootings. Defined simply as an incident where four or more people are injured or killed, not including the shooter, there were 14,000 people killed and another 29,000 injured in mass shootings in 2017. Certainly the attack in Las Vegas in October that left 58 dead and 851 people injured and the shooting one month later in Sutherland Springs, Texas that left 26 people dead and 20 more injured stand out in our memory.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a long record regarding guns and gun violence in America. More locally, the Presbytery of Detroit has been pursuing the topic. The Session of GPMC has now joined Presbyterians all around the country in enjoining this conversation. In November 2017 our ruling elders watched “Trigger: the Ripple Effect of Gun Violence,” a documentary produced by the PC (USA). In 2018, the Session formed three task forces comprised of current ruling elders to look into safety, advocacy and education in related to gun violence.
While the safety and advocacy groups are still examining what might be done in light of our commitments to peace and safety while also being a very socially diverse congregation, the education task force is moving toward some activities this fall. Those activities include integrating books and materials on violence, in general, and gun violence, in particular, into existing Bible studies, reading groups and adult education venues, including Sunday morning Middle Hours.
During Sunday morning Middle Hours (10:10 – 11:00 a.m.) in September and October, the gun violence education task force is going to host a series of conversations that will include multiple voices from our own congregation and denomination. The series will include materials produced by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), materials that attempt to share the breadth of the issue and our theological resources in responding to it. The series will also feature perspectives from psychologists, educators, chaplains and students on the impact of gun violence on victims. An important element of these conversations will be helping people to listen to one another.
As Christians, we have the opportunity to utilize our faith resources to helpfully talk about difficult issues, rather than resorting to some of the usual and less helpful ways that people take on tough issues, namely ignoring them or talking past one another. It is our hope that together we will learn and grow while working for a more peaceful country for one another and for our children. Come join us as we live into that hope on Sunday mornings in October.