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NCC related congregations will ring
bells in memory of Newtown victims

Livingston will join Friday press event to call for meaningful action on guns

Washington, December 20, 2012 – Many of the 100,000 congregations related to National Council of Churches member communions will ring church bells Friday morning to mark one week since 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school.

Thousands of houses of worship will observe a minute of silence and sound their bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday in memory of the victims who died in the school. Authorities believe the alleged shooter also killed his mother before going to the school with an automatic rifle.

The Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the National Council of Churches from 2006-2007 and most recently director of the NCC’s poverty initiative, will join faith leaders in a press conference at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21, in the National Cathedral here to urge Congress and the President “to take meaningful action to address the national epidemic of gun violence.”

Livingston is director of the Washington Office of Interfaith Worker Justice.

Barbara Weinstein, director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, said the horror of the Newtown shooting spree “is only magnified by the knowledge that the shooting was only the most recent in what has been a series of acts of mass gun violence.”

These events pierce the collective conscience of our nation and have thrust the nation into mourning, Weinstein said. “But we must do more than lament the loss of life and comfort those who are engulfed in grief; we must come together as people of faith in a collective call to action to end this crisis gripping our country. The time to end senseless gun violence is now, and as religious leaders of national prominence, the responsibility to provide moral leadership to achieve that cause is ours.”

In the hours following the shooting last week, NCC President Kathryn Lohre said, "As a parent, I cannot comprehend the grief other mothers and fathers are feeling tonight. I share President Obama's instincts to hug my own child especially close tonight. And my heart breaks to know so many parents in Connecticut are no longer able to do that."

Tragedies like the shootings in Newton are impossible for theologians and clergy to explain," Lohre said. "But we seek comfort in our faith that our God is a God of love, and God's heart is breaking tonight, too."

In addition to Livingston, speakers at the press event Friday will include the Rev. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, Sr., President, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America; the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Senior Pastor, Lamb's Church; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President, The Rabbinical Assembly.



Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell),


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