Heartrending mass shootings across the United States raise again the specter of threats against the safety of worshipers in Virginia Conference churches. Please use the following resources to guide discussions and decisions.
By the Rev. Doug Forrester
The Latin phrase “ora et labora” translates into English as “pray and work.” It refers to the belief of Saint Benedict that prayer and work are partners, as he believed in the combination of contemplation and action.
Since the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas which resulted in the horrific death of nineteen children and two teachers, our church sanctuaries have resounded with prayer (“ora”) for the victims, their families, and the Uvalde community.
After each tragedy like the one in Uvalde, United Methodists wonder aloud what is the best way we can prevent such tragedies in the future. In other words, what is the “labora” that is necessary to put our “ora” into action?
What follows in this document are ways that United Methodists and United Methodist congregations like yours can pray, learn, act, and make a difference in our respective contexts. You are encouraged to review this document and the links herein to see what speaks to you and your congregation as together we seek to put our prayers into action for the communities and into which God has placed God’s church for the sake of the redemption and transformation of the world.
May our congregations and our congregational witness always live at the intersection of our prayer and our work, for the sake of this generation and generations yet unborn, and for the sake of the world, our Prince of Peace died to save.
What is the Book of Resolutions?
The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church contains our official positions on many issues, including gun violence. Resolution 3428 in the 2016 Book of Resolutions, “Our Call to End Gun Violence,” calls upon The United Methodist Church—which means you, me, and every member of our denomination—to do several things. Read the resolution in its entirety here.
- Conversations and prayer
The Book of Resolutions calls congregations “to make preventing gun violence a regular part of our conversations and prayer times.” In order to be part of the solution, we need to talk and pray. Congregations are encouraged to use resources such as Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities, a free, downloadable resource from United Methodist Church and Society to facilitate these conversations.
- Promote gun safety
United Methodist gun owners are called upon to help prevent gun violence by safely storing and securing guns, and by teaching and practicing gun safety.
- Encourage legal sales
The Book of Resolutions suggests United Methodists “partner with law-enforcement and community groups” to encourage “full legal compliance with appropriate standards and laws” to the sale and ownership of guns.
- Other Resources
- Gun Violence Prevention 101 Cheat Sheet
- Gun Violence Faith and Facts Card
- Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities Bible Study
Real Kids, Real Faith has prepared a resource for discussing the Uvalde school shooting with children. This website also offers resources for discussing other traumatic events with young ones.
This document was adapted from an article from UMC.org that can be found here.