CCORR leaders encourage us to remember our United Methodist call to end gun violence

April 22, 2021 | by Admin

CCORR leaders encourage us to remember our United Methodist call to end gun violence

In a week that has seen more gun violence but also a step toward justice in the guilty rulings of the George Floyd murder case, leaders from our California-Nevada Committee on Religion & Race (CCORR)  offers a steadfast word of encouragement, and a call to action rooted in our United Methodist heritage. 

Iunisi Tovo, Chair of our CCORR stated, "While we are facing increasing racism towards Asian-Americans and continue to see widespread systemic racism and gun violence we are encouraged with steps taken toward justice in the trial of Derrick Chauvin, the police officer who has now been found guilty of murdering George Floyd. CCORR encourages our Conference to remain dedicated to upholding our United Methodist stand against racism of all kinds, in all forms. As clergy and lay persons called to lead in communities across Northern California and Northern Nevada, let us diligently use every platform available to us to address the wickedness of actions which are contrary to the teachings of Jesus about love, hope, and justice.  On behalf of the California-Nevada Conference, CCORR will faithfully continue to uphold the need for equality and peace among all people. 'There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.'-- Galatians 3:28."

Easter Hill UMC pastor Rev. Dale Weatherspoon, a member of CCORR has been thinking about gun violence and our call as United Methodists to actively work to end the tragedies brought on by readily available firearms.  In a recent sermon he stated, "We must proclaim enough is enough! All life is sacred! Thoughts and prayers are not enough after each shooting, each murder. Systems need to be changed! Systems of racism and oppression do not create places and spaces for peace. We must do away with these weapons of mass destruction. As the prophet Micah called for, we must convert our military weapons, assault rifles, machine guns into peaceful applications, peaceful tools that make it possible for everyone to have enough food, to have proper shelter not tents on the streets or tents under the freeways. Turning our weapons into plowshares would be one way of showing that everyone is respected and valued and not a threat because of the color of the skins, their economic status, their sexual orientation, what religion they practice or where they live."

Our CCORR leaders remind us of Resolution #3428: Our call to end gun violence, found in the 2016 Book of Resolutions.  An excerpt of that resolution includes what we can do in our local churches and communities to end gun violence: 

As followers of Jesus, called to live into the reality of God’s dream of shalom as described by Micah, we must address the epidemic of gun violence so “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in God’s paths.” Therefore, we call upon United Methodists to prayerfully address gun violence in their local context. Some of the ways in which to prevent gun violence include the following:

  1. For congregations to make preventing gun violence a regular part of our conversations and prayer times. Gun violence must be worshipfully and theologically reflected on, and we encourage United Methodist churches to frame conversations theologically by utilizing resources such as “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities: Reflections on Gun Violence from Micah 4:1-4” produced by the General Board of Church and Society.
  2. For congregations to assist those affected by gun violence through prayer, pastoral care, creating space, and encouraging survivors to share their stories, financial assistance, and through identifying other resources in their communities as victims of gun violence and their families walk through the process of grieving and healing.
  3. For individual United Methodists who own guns as hunters or collectors to safely and securely store their guns and to teach the importance of practicing gun safety.
  4. For United Methodist congregations that have not experienced gun violence to form ecumenical and interfaith partnerships with faith communities that have experienced gun violence in order to support them and learn from their experiences.
  5. For United Methodist congregations to lead or join in ecumenical or interfaith gatherings for public prayer at sites where gun violence has occurred and partner with law enforcement to help prevent gun violence.
  6. For United Methodist congregations to partner with local law-enforcement agencies and community groups to identify gun retailers that engage in retail practices designed to circumvent laws on gun sales and ownership, encourage full legal compliance, and to work with groups like Heeding God’s Call that organize faith-based campaigns to encourage gun retailers to gain full legal compliance with appropriate standards and laws.
  7. For United Methodist congregations to display signs that prohibit carrying guns onto church property.
  8. For United Methodist congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence. Some of those measures include:
    • Universal background checks on all gun purchases
    • Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty
    • Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers
    • Prohibiting all individuals convicted of violent crimes from purchasing a gun for a fixed time period
    • Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun
    • Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun
    • Ensuring greater access to services for those suffering from mental illness
    • Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession
    • Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled
    • Promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety

We are grateful for the leadership of our CCORR and encourage each of you to think deeply about what steps you could take to support the call to end gun violence and help to bring about the beloved community in your own setting.

Click here to read the full Resolution #3428.