Church & Society aims to counter gun violence

1/13/2017

When the 2016 General Conference passed the resolution “Our Call To End Gun Violence,” a team went to work to provide relevant resources for United Methodist congregations. Then they presented that work to 48 laity and clergy from across the country by hosting a “Faith and Guns” forum at the headquarters of the General Board of Church and Society, in the nation’s capital.

Janet Boone and Twila Gibbens traveled to Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Oklahoma Conference’s Church and Society committee.

They attended the three-day event and reported back with resources for our churches.

The United Methodist Church owns the only non-government building on Capitol Hill, and the General Board of Church and Society is housed there. Our United Methodist work on mental health, healthy families, gambling, alcohol and other addictions, and many other societal issues are researched and resourced by this agency.

Among U.S. statistics the women learned: 60 percent of gun deaths are suicides; mass shootings, 1 percent; and 91 people die per day in gun violence (seven of those are children and teens).

These statistics were presented by passionate Christian speakers from public health organizations, research professors, and Christian pastors, Rev. Gibbens said. Participants worshipped, asked questions, heard stories, and visited members of Congress.

What can Christians do? “Our compassion will not let us remain silent or unmoved by the statistics and stories of innocent lives taken. Many Christians are ready right now to work to reduce gun violence,” Gibbens said.

The Oklahomans came back with these resources, and they are ready to share them.

• Literature for a three-week study titled “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities”

• Resources that Christian communities have used to honor victims, and to shut down illegal sales by gun shops (“Heeding God’s Call”)

• Suggested topics for discussions with legislators and other groups to build coalitions within your area

Contact Boone or Gibbens through the Facebook page “The Board of Church & Society, OK Conference of the United Methodist Church.” You also can go online to GBCS at www.UMC.org to access resources.

Also, at the 2017 Annual Conference, local-church delegates are invited to visit the Church and Society booth to gather resources and build connections.

“We have a long road ahead, and it starts with prayer, passion, and partnership,” said Gibbens.

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Janet Boone, left, and Twila Gibbens tour the Church & Society offices in the nation’s capital.