Gun Violence Prevention Team
The Gun Violence Prevention Team (GVP)
The Episcopal Church has a long history of supporting common sense gun-safety legislation. General Convention has repeatedly called upon Congress to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Bishops United Against Gun Violence has taken a strong leadership role in response to the senseless deaths and injuries due to gun violence in the United States.
Consistent with the canons of The Episcopal Church and our diocese, SJE’s Gun Violence Prevention Team (GVP) advocates for the adoption of gun-safety legislation that protects people.
The GVP team regularly meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 1:00pm. Our next regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at 1:00pm at St. John's Episcopal Church. You are invited to join us. To find out more or get involved, contact Ministry Team Leader Nancy Collins.
As a people of faith, we believe that prayers are a faithful response to gun violence—particularly when matched with action. So Pray! And Take Action! Here are some ideas:
Worship! Remember! Pray!
From PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE created by St. Thomas Parish, Dupont Circle in Washington DC as a prayerful response to tragic acts of gun violence (February 14, 2018):
God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. For your dream of love and harmony, Loving God, Make us instruments of your peace.
REQUIEM MASS FOR THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING:
Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 6:00pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in Grand Haven (in-person and live streamed)
Join SJE in prayer and worship when we conduct a special Requiem Mass on the 10th anniversary of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On December 14, 2012, twenty-six people were killed by a shooter in Newtown, Connecticut; twenty of the dead were children between six and seven years old and six victims were adult staff members. The Sandy Hook incident is the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history. We will pray for the repose of these and all victims of gun violence.
Step Up! Show Up! Speak Up!
SAVE THE DATE: Thursday, September 29, 2022. End Gun Violence Michigan is tentatively planning a Day of Action in Lansing.
Wear ORANGE on Friday, September 30 to support Campaign Nonviolence's Day of Action to End Gun Violence.
Participate in a Local Day of Action to End Gun Violence when SJE's Gun Violence Prevention Team and March for Our Lives-Grand Haven host a Silenced by Gun Violence Die-In Protest on Saturday, October 1 at 1:00pm on SJE's Washington Avenue lawn. The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Bishop Provisional of the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, will be present and share remarks. Then we’ll use performance art to make a point – too many Americans are dying because of gun violence. There will be 124 “gravestones” on the lawn – representing the average number of people who died from gun violence per day in the United States in 2020. The SJE GVP team believes gun-safety laws are one tool to save lives and reduce injuries due to gun violence. Watch this website for more information as it becomes available.
Help Michigan Coalition to End Gun Violence reach their goal of 4,000 signatures by checking out and signing their online petition showing support to ban all citizen firearms on the Michigan Capitol grounds. Tell others about this petition.
Sign the Episcopal Church Policy Network, Office of Government Relations, electronic petition supporting federal background check reforms to strengthen and expand background checks online here.
Thank Congress for Passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by sending a message of gratitude. The Episcopal Church, Office of Government Relations offers an online letter you can personalize here. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will:
Enhance Background Checks for Buyers Under 21
Support State Red Flag Laws
Disarm Domestic Abusers
Clarify Who Must Run a Background Check
Crack Down on Gun Trafficking
Fund Community Violence Intervention
Invest in Mental Health Services
Provide School Safety Funding
The GVP team is creating a Postcard Party Tool Kit to help other groups organize their own Postcard Party - a chance for parishioners to sign pre-printed postcards that are mailed to state legislators urging them to take action on gun-safety bills currently stuck in committee. The tool kit will be available on this webpage soon. Do you know of a group that might be interested in holding their own Postcard Party? If so, let them know about our tool kit.
Attend the next meeting of SJE's GVP team on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at 1:00pm at St. John's Episcopal Church. Help plan future events advocating for our lawmakers to enact common sense gun-safety legislation.
Join the GVP team on Tuesday, September 27 at 7:00pm for a Sign-Making Party in Timberlake Hall: we’ll be creating 124 “gravestones” and making protest signs for the October 1 Silenced by Gun Violence Die-In Protest.
End Gun Violence Michigan is considering whether to launch a gun-safety ballot initiative in 2024. In the event a ballot initiative is launched they are seeking to identify 2,000 registered voters to potentially circulate petitions. If you’re interested, or want more information, contact Ministry Team Leader Nancy Collins.
Be sure you are registered to vote. Residents of the State of Michigan can check current voter registration status online by visiting: mi.gov/vote then scroll to "Your Voter Information" and select the link "Am I registered?"
Those who are eligible to vote in Michigan and have a Michigan driver's license or state ID card can register to vote online. Start the process at mi.gov/vote then scroll to "Register to Vote." In order to vote in the November 8 general election online registration must take place by Monday, October 24, 2022.
If you are registered: VOTE in the general election on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
LINKS TO GUN VIOLENCE STATISTICS & RESEARCH:
The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organization.
Everytown Research & Policy conducts independent, methodologically rigorous research, supports evidence-based policies, and communicates this knowledge to the public.
LINKS TO MICHIGAN GUN-SAFETY LEGISLATION INFORMATION:
2022 Michigan Gun-Safety Bills in Committee online here
Sojourner's How To Call Your Members of Congress
Sojourner's How to Call Your Legislator - And Make it Count
Sojourner's How To: Meet Your Members of Congress
LINKS TO GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION ORGANIZATIONS:
Bishops United to End Gun Violence (Bishops United to End Gun Violence is a network of nearly 100 Episcopal Church bishops, that urges our cities, states and nation to adopt policies and pass legislation that will reduce the number of people in the United States killed and wounded by gunfire.)
Moms Demand Action (MDA is grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.)
Michigan Coalition to End Gun Violence (MCPGV and its partners work collaboratively to prevent gun violence through community education and the development of evidence-based policies.)
United Against Gun Violence / Brady (Brady is one of America’s oldest and boldest gun violence prevention groups, and its history of success goes back decades.)
Why SJE's GVP Team was Organized
In the wake of the November 30, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan (where four students were killed and seven people injured) 130 leaders from across Michigan came together to explore a different approach to the epidemic of gun violence. They agreed to work together as End Gun Violence Michigan to consider whether a gun-safety ballot initiative in Michigan could succeed in 2024. Early in the spring of 2022 our Provisional Bishop Prince Singh invited parishes in our diocese to participate in this endeavor.
Accepting our bishop’s call, a small -- but passionate -- group from St. John’s organized to support the efforts of End Gun Violence Michigan through advocacy and education.
On April 13, 2022 members of SJE’s Gun Violence Prevention Team and concerned citizens from throughout Michigan communicated with elected officials in Lansing to urge the consideration of common sense gun-safety legislation which has languished in committee. Attempts were made by some legislators to bring the bills out of committee. But those efforts were blocked.
Since April, additional senseless murders as a result of gun violence have taken place in the United States. Most notably, on May 14, 2022 a mass shooting occurred at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Ten Black people were killed and three people were injured. On May 24, 2022 nineteen elementary age students and two teachers were fatally shot at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Seventeen other people were wounded.
We lament these and all senseless deaths and injuries due to gun violence. And we are angry that state and national elected officials have not come together to pass gun-safety legislation that protects people. With God's help, we’re working to change that.
What We're Doing: Prayer and Action
Members of SJE’s Gun Violence Prevention Team - along with other concerned People of Faith brought together by End Gun Violence Michigan - urged lawmakers in Lansing to adopt common sense gun-safety legislation during EGV Michgan's Lobby Day on April 13, 2022.
On Thursday, June 9, 2022 St. John's Episcopal Church offered a Requiem Vigil & Mass of Advocacy for Victims of Gun Violence video online here, bulletin online here, which 30 people attended. Mass was followed by a candle-lit procession to SJE's Homeless Jesus statue on Washington Avenue where participants stood in silent vigil for 21 minutes in memory and prayer for the lives lost in Uvalde, Texas.
On Saturday, June 11 about a dozen members of SJE (plus friends) participated in the local March for Our Lives on June 11 to demand lawmakers act to save lives. More than 100 people from the community showed up in Grand Haven's Central Park (and marched through downtown) to let elected officials know we demand and deserve a nation free of gun violence. Information about the local March for Our Lives is online here.
The GVP team wrapped up it's Postcard Party (a chance for parishioners to sign pre-printed postcards urging state lawmakers to enact common sense gun-safety legislation) on Sunday, June 19, 2022. The following week we sent cover letters with postcards calling on 11 state legislators to enact common sense legislation to address the public safety issues and public health concerns caused by gun violence. Seventy-eight people signed 145 postcards (some people only signed one postcard). The postcards were mailed to: Senators Tom Barrett, Jon Bumstead, Aric Nesbitt, and Roger Victory; Representatives Graham Filler, Luke Meerman, Terry Sabo, Greg VanWoerkom, and Mary Whiteford. Because Representative Jim Lilly departed the Michigan House of Representatives the end of June the postcards for HR District 89 were sent to Speaker of House Jason Wentworth!
SJE Gun Violence Prevention team members joined in a conversation with Bishops United Against Gun Violence and End Gun Violence Michigan on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. The session focused on what individuals can do as Episcopalians and as churches advocating for common sense measures to end gun violence. View the recording here.