Feb. 14 Anniversary of Parkland, FL School Shooting & Feb. 17 Universal Day of Prayer for Students
As the new Congress receives a bi-partisan bill for Universal Background Checks, Presbyterians can receive a Worship-Action Kit to mark the anniversary of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 and the Universal Day of Prayer for Students on Feb. 17. The kit is available free of cost from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship here.
The Worship-Action Kit contains the “Prayer for a Movement of the Spirit” that was commended to all Presbyterian churches by the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in June 2018 (see below). “For Presbyterians, prayer and action go together,” says Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly. Kohlmann will share the February Worship-Action Kit with the presbyteries that she serves, encouraging them to be united in the prayer from the General Assembly. “If we ask,” says Kohlmann, “God will show us the way to change.”
Presbyterian congregations have participated in the Universal Day of Prayer for Students since 1893. This year that day falls in the week of the first anniversary of a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student killing 17 students and adults in seven minutes with a semi-automatic weapon. Student survivors of the shooting went on to found March for Our Lives to call upon America to enact change to prevent future bloodshed. The General Assembly Prayer includes a statement of gratitude for the students who are working to end gun violence. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has called for measures such as Universal Background Checks for over 50 years, starting after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Worship-Action Kit also offers hymns, scriptures, worship ideas and action suggestions, as well as prayers written by Presbyterian students for God’s presence in the work of preventing gun violence. Congregations can add or adapt these elements for their existing services for the week of Feb. 14-17 or create special services or public actions.
For questions about the Feb 14 -17 options, or if your congregation needs help or encouragement with this work, contact Deanna Hollas of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Gun Violence Prevention Ministry firstname.lastname@example.org 214-702-2265. See below for the General Assembly Prayer in a responsive prayer format.
A Presbyterian Prayer for Action
From the 223rdGeneral Assembly, PC(USA), June 2018, marking 50 Years of Presbyterian Witness to Prevent Gun Violence. Responsive Prayer Adapted by Cheryl and Doug Hunt, Stockton, CA*
*****Option: Provide each worshipper with a small Post-It note and pen or pencil)
whose mercy never ends,
whose Spirit brings
the Kairos moment for change:
We confess our past willingness to abide the deaths
of over one million, six hundred thousand souls
lost to gun violence in the last 50 years:
as well as millions more injured,
Help us to comprehend this carnage
and not become numb.
|*****Option: At this point in the prayer, let us stop and think for a moment and remember a person you know (or a group of people) who has been a victim of gun violence. Write that name on your Post-It note.|
We give thanks for the long witness of the General Assembly
and all Presbyterians who are already engaged in preventing gun violence.
We thank you for raising up the students to lead us with marches, walk-outs and a passion born of pain.
We call upon you, Lord;
we have nowhere else to turn.
Galvanize all of us,
every congregation in the Presbyterian Church.
Wake us up in our pews and our lives;
do not let Christ find us asleep on this watch.
Rather, Lord, grant to our church members, both those of us who own guns and those of us who do not, a unity of purpose to change the national debate on gun violence.
Show us the path.
At all the places where you are proclaimed,
give us courage to stand against principalities and powers.
Grant us the joy
of using the gifts that you provide–
to help our communities and our nation heal from this tragedy and sorrow.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
|Option: Later during the worship, invite worshippers to bring or pass their Post-It note forward to place the notes on a central table or cross or a sign to be displayed.|
*January 17, 2019 marks 30 years since the first school mass shooting in Stockton, CA, killing six and injuring 32.