Lovely Places Become Labels for Tragedy

Columbine, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Mother Emanuel, Sutherland Springs, Tree of Life, and, now, Thousand Oaks. These places were little know locations of everyday life until a mass shooter opened fire, murdering many and forever etching the place name in our brains as a symbol of violence and guns. This is a very incomplete list of mass shootings in the United States. In fact, this year alone there have been 307 mass shootings in our country (defined as an incident in which four more people are killed or injured). That is almost one mass shooting per day. The magnitude of the terror and tragedy is becoming almost unbearable.

After each of these terrible events we pause to send our prayers to the families of the victims and for peace and safety for our communities. Our prayers, if they are heartfelt and true, not only contribute to the spiritual movement for comfort, but should also move us to action. In light of our the recent onslaught of violence let me share with you some things we have done and are doing to help in the huge task of creating truly safe communities:

• Following the Tree of Life shooting we joined with local synagogues to prayer for the victims and for all our faith communities. You can see press coverage here.
• We are hosting the annual Huntington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, November 18, 7:00 PM to help build a stronger community by strengthening relationships between all the faith groups in Huntington.
• There is a church team creating a new campaign to promote gun safety. You will hear of the details of their work in the near future.
• On Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 PM, we will host our second annual Prayer Vigil for the Victims of Gun Violence. This is in conjunction with the National Vigil that will be held that night at the National Cathedral in Washington DC.

We obviously need a much greater effort to create the peaceable realm that God has dreamed for our planet. May we all hold the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting in our prayers as we work to prevent future lovely places from becoming names for tragedies.