(Note: A prayer vigil against gun violence will be held on Sunday evening, March 17, on the West Terrace of the State Capitol building. Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa extends an invitation to be present and participate.)
During the past few weeks since December 14 our nation has begun to grapple with the pervasive and deep problem of gun violence in all our communities. As people of faith, we have a special role to play in this national discussion... it is the role of acknowledging and commemorating the loss of life that has been wrought by gun violence. On November 1, 1991, Iowa was shook by a horrific shooting at the University of Iowa that predates many of the more notorious school shootings. In that shooting four university faculty and two students were killed as well as one student was paralyzed. It is a shooting that still haunts our memories.
For over 20 years we have watched as that scene got played out over and over across this country. But it is not just the mass shootings that have pulled on our hearts of faith, it also the day-to-day shootings that happen so frequently that we hardly notice. It is also the suicides by gun which studies have shown are so very preventable by removing access to a gun from people going through illness and difficult times. How do we begin to address these concerns?
As people of faith, we begin by gathering to unite. We begin with prayer. We begin by reflecting visually and acknowledging the pain and loss that comes each and every time someone is lost to gun violence, regardless of the circumstances.
Please join us and encourage your faith community to join us on Sunday Night, March 17, at 7:00 pm at the base of the West Capitol Terrace to gather, pray and reflect on the loss of life here in Iowa as we light candles to commemorate those persons lost in our state to gun violence. (For more information on the Sunday night vigil, see the attached flyer.) Then let us go forth united to act to prevent gun violence through sensible and reasonable public discussion and policies that keep public safety of our schools, parks, malls and communities, and our children’s well-being at the forefront.
For more information and to join hundreds of other congregations in participating in the Sabbath to Prevent Gun Violence go to Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence: http://faithsagainstgunviolence.org/sabbath/
Even if you can not attend the Iowa Prayer Vigil in Des Moines, you can encourage your community to unite in the effort by joining the write-in effort to Congress on Monday March 18. Messages can be sent to Congress here: http://faithsagainstgunviolence.org/take-action-2/
In the light of Christ,
The Right Rev. Alan Scarfe
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa