ABHMS was a sponsor of the March 25 event in Des Moines, Iowa, in which a diverse coalition of Iowa clergy, people of faith, elected officials and concerned citizens gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and marched to the state capitol. The group participated in an interfaith prayer service and placed white carnations in remembrance of gun violence victims.
As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on several gun violence prevention bills, this show of unity demonstrates to Congressional leaders—including Iowa senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin—that many in the faith community strongly urge them to make common-sense decisions regarding gun violence prevention laws.
“The events of Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown were a wake-up call to everyone in our nation and to people of faith in Iowa,” said the Rev. Cheryl Thomas of One Million Moms for Gun Safety-Iowa and an American Baptist. “Since Dec. 14, 14 people have been killed by guns in Iowa, but that number just begins to tell the story. Every year in Iowa more than 200 people die from gun violence. In 2011, 218 people died. Today we remember the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors who have died from gun violence right here in Iowa.”
In addition to Thomas, Iowa march participants included Bishop Alan Scarfe, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa; Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie; Des Moines Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad; Jagtar Singh, past president, Sikh Temple of Iowa; Hamed Baig, president, Islamic Center of Des Moines; Barb Hirsh-Giller, president, Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines; Pat Peterson, member, First Unitarian Church, Des Moines; and Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa.
Joining ABHMS in sponsoring the march were the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America-Iowa, and Iowans for Gun Safety.
Other recent ABHMS advocacy efforts included participation in the national Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, for which ABHMS’ Curtis Ramsey-Lucas read a gun-violence prevention statement at Washington National Cathedral on March 16.
Organized by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of various faith-based organizations, Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, March 15-17, prompted more than 400 entities across the United States to reflect on and unite against gun violence during panel discussions and services.
ABHMS—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.