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New York, January 14, 2011 -- On the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches has called on individual NCC governing board members, communion heads and other representatives to let their political officials know they oppose the easy availability of fire arms.
"I strongly urge you to write your own congressional delegates and state governor, letting them know that you, too, are the NCC -- and that together we say an emphatic 'No!' to laws that allow assault weapons and handguns with oversize magazines to be readily available on our city streets," Kinnamon wrote today in a letter to NCC representatives.
Kinnamon said his message comes "in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, an event which I am sure we have all named in our personal times of prayer."
A surge of voices from national, state and local bodies will remind political leaders of the scope of the NCC's partnerships, Kinnamon noted. "When we send letters from the NCC office to Congress and/or the Administration, they are too often dismissed as the message of a single organization instead of the collective witness of a community of communions," Kinnamon wrote.
Kinnamon noted that the NCC Governing Board adopted a resolution against gun violence last May.
"Ending Gun Violence: A Resolution and Call to Action by the National Council of Churches," calls upon the NCC's member communions to "prayerfully, financially, and otherwise support the NCC staff in coordinating ecumenical efforts for gun violence reduction, including preparing educational materials about the magnitude of gun violence, developing avenues for dialogue among gun owners and gun control advocates within our congregations, and offering a faithful witness in cooperating with inter-faith and nonreligious anti-gun advocacy organizations."
The full text of the resolution can be downloaded at http://www.ncccusa.org/NCCpolicies/gunviolence.pdf
Kinnamon wrote: "In addition to prayer and calls for civility, I believe
this is also the moment to press our long-standing concern as a community of
Christian communions for laws aimed at reducing gun violence in
Kinnamon cited a column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times calling for regulations "to regulate guns as seriously as toys."
Kinnamon said the NCC staff is "collaborating with the
Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Islamic Society of North America, and
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to provide materials and
encouragement for Vigils Against Violence in communities across the country.
Our colleagues in various state and local councils have indicated strong
interest in helping to coordinate such vigils; and I hope that many of you
will look for opportunities to be involved and to encourage others in your
communion to do the same. "
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an appropriate time for NCC member communions to take collective action on the issue of gun violence, Kinnamon said.
"As I see it, the ecumenical movement is a movement for unity, but also a movement for peace-and the two go hand in hand. It is important to advocate for sane gun laws. But our most significant witness for peace in a culture of violence is our ability to live trustfully with differences because of our shared faith in Jesus Christ, the One whose life, death, and resurrection make possible a more excellent way ... May God strengthen our shared witness for unity and peace in this season of mourning and prayer."
The full text of Kinnamon's message can be downloaded here.
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