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Spiritual leaders need to lead on gun violence, pastors say

The murder of 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado (USA) yesterday is a stark reminder of the grim place gun violence holds in many communities around the world, said Rev. Cecilia Eggleston, moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.
“Day after day, we hear new stories of gun violence taking innocent lives in communities around the world,” Eggleston said. “Alas, this is not a crisis that churches and other people of faith can solve independently, but it is also not beyond our purview to participate in solution-making.
“Gun regulations and public safety matters are political issues, unfortunately, and thus beyond the immediate grasp of the church,” she said. “But we do have a role to play.  As leaders in our own communities we can offer safe spaces for discussion, for leaders to meet with citizens, and for communal prayer to end violence and experience a spiritual renewal.
“What happened in Boulder is not an isolated incident. Neither should be our response to it. We need to use our influence to change public policy to make the world safer. One thing is certain: We cannot expect the suffering to end unless we create change.”
“Colorado has yet again faced the moral dilemma of what it means to have guns in our safe spaces, whether that be our schools, movie theaters, or churches,” said Rev. Ben Mann, senior pastor of MCC of the Rockies in Denver. “Guns are not the cornerstone of community. That place is reserved for our precious relationships. We ask for change in policy and change in our hearts that we will no longer see guns as extensions of our identity, so that we can guarantee the safety of our neighbors and neighborhoods.”
“We mourn the lives of those murdered yesterday in Boulder,” said Rev. Alycia Erickson, pastor of Pike’s Peak Metropolitan Community Church.  “We stand with all those saying, ‘Not one more!’ We must find ways to address the pandemic of gun violence in our country. Just as we have learned how to wear masks and physically distance from one another because of COVID-19 restrictions, so, too, I believe, can we find ways to prevent mass shootings in our country. We can and we MUST end violence like this in our state and in our country.”