February 17, 2019
On February 14, 2018, a former student entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon. In 7 minutes, he killed 17 students and adults. In February of 1893, Presbyterians first participated in the Universal Day of Prayer for Students, lifting to God the lives of children, teenagers and young adults. In February of 2019, these two anniversaries coincide in a way that calls the church to take seriously the steps needed to protect students and all of us from the crisis of gun violence in our nation.
In June 2019, the 223 rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) marked 50 years of GA statements calling for practical steps to prevent gun violence in America, beginning in 1968. Over these five decades of GA statements, most of us in our local congregations have done little, if anything, to respond. We have not known how to help on this issue. Now our country faces an epidemic of gun violence with over 36,000 Americans killed by guns in the last year alone. Mass shootings claim the headlines but there is also the daily despair of murders, accidents, suicides and domestic gun violence. God calls the church to find its unique role in helping our nation both grieve and change. Dare we pray for our students and not protect them from gun violence?
There is no single solution to gun violence. But, out of the Parkland, FL shooting, a movement has arisen among students to lead us to a new consensus on a range of actions that can work
together to save lives. This new consensus requires communities that can bring together those of us who own guns and those of us who do not to find middle ground for change and to see it
through. Perhaps this task of bringing people together is the unique role that the church and other communities of faith can offer our students and our nation.
On February 14 and 17, 2019, please use the brand new Worship-Action Kit in ways that best serve your congregation. It includes prayers, scripture reflections, hymn suggestions, creative worship ideas, and several action suggestions. You are free to reproduce these materials for your worship, study and action needs.