|We believe it is possible to address the scourge of gun violence as a people of faith, not fear. We believe our faith compels us to act in this moment, standing with the traumatized, aligning ourselves with the hope of transformation and new life.
–from the Wisconsin Council of Churches Lenten Call to Action on Gun Violence, 2018
The church must engage gun violence with Gospel values — grounding ourselves in faith, where others bring only fear. Our youth are prophetic leaders on this issue, and a year ago, we called on churches to keep their voices central. We are committed to doing the same as the ecumenical community takes on this issue.
The Wisconsin Council of Churches is excited to announce a two-phase Faith and Gun Violence project to offer resources to the churches for faithful conversation on gun violence that leads to action rooted in Gospel values.
Statewide Youth Summit on Faith and Gun Violence
Saturday, January 26, 2019
How do we participate? WCC members are invited to send delegations of middle and high school youth to this summit, to be held at Pilgrim Center (near Ripon, WI) on Saturday, January 26. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Scroll to the bottom of the page for an online registration form for youth and chaperones.
What will youth delegates do? On the day of the summit, youth delegates will have an opportunity to share their stories about gun violence, their fears and hopes. We will work with story coaches from Ex Fabula to shape these personal stories in ways that make meaning. At the end of the day, a story slam offers the chance for those who want to share before the group to do so. Our partners from WAVE (Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort) will join us to offer breakouts on youth advocacy. A videographer will be present to record the day’s proceedings. These videos will be the core of a new curriculum the WCC is producing for churches on faith & gun violence (read more below)!
Logistics? The fee for youth delegates is $10 per person. Adult chaperones attend for free. Lunch is provided, as is morning and afternoon snack. Check-in opens at 8 am. Program begins at 9 am sharp and finishes at 5 pm. Once your registration is confirmed, we will have additional forms for your delegation to complete to ensure compliance with the regulations required for a youth camp.
Need help getting there? Thanks to generous grant support, buses are available at no cost for transportation to and from Pilgrim Center. We MUST have your reservation for bus transportation in advance; seats are limited. Departure/return points: Eau Claire – Immanuel Lutheran, 3214 Golf Rd. Milwaukee- Greenfield Ave Presbyterian Church, 1455 S 97th St. Stevens Point – The United Methodist Church, 600 Wilshire Ave. More details will be provided when you register.
Call for submissions! Whether or not you attend the youth summit, we want to hear what you have to say! The Wisconsin Council of Churches is looking for short videos, prayers, songs, poetry, and stories from youth around the state sharing YOUR perspective on gun violence. What is your story? What is the role of faith in this story? How can faith transform the status quo? Email email@example.com or tag us on Twitter and Instagram @wichurches #faithandgunviolence
The WCC is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Your submissions may be shared.
What if we can’t attend? We encourage you to think creatively! Can you schedule a regional or community youth gathering on the topic, that day or the evening before? How can you use your time to share your stories and transform them in the telling?
We believe in the power of being church together. Can you gather churches from other denominations? Churches from your denomination in a wider area? Any resources you create can be sent on to firstname.lastname@example.org to be part of the statewide project. We welcome your photos and testimony from events around the state! (Be sure to get photo releases first).
Step 2: Faith and Gun Violence Study-Action Guide
What happens after the Youth Summit? The Peace and Justice Commission of the Wisconsin Council of Churches has been gathering resources on faith and gun violence. A video of the proceedings of the youth summit will be created – and we’ll also collect the submitted materials from youth around the state.
All these materials will be collected and sorted so we can develop a curriculum to share with churches around the state. The WCC has experience developing study-action guides that help churches take on difficult topics in ways that are grounded in personal stories and the stories of our faith. Our hope is that this new guide will do the same thing.
Why a Study-Action Guide? We don’t want the church’s work on gun violence to end with a one-day summit or with study alone. We are called to engage our heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s our hope that the study guides will lead you to action. What Gospel questions will arise as you hear the testimony of youth summit participants, and others who have submitted materials? What happens when we pair these with the holy testimony to be found in the Bible and Christian tradition? What actions do both of these lead you to consider?
Watch this space for details about progress on the study-action guide in the months after the Youth Summit has taken place.
Thank you to the following organizations for their support of the Faith and Gun Violence Initiative: Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation, United Church Camps Incorporated, Winnebago Presbytery, John Knox Presbytery, Milwaukee Presbytery, Covenant Presbyterian Church Madison, First Congregational Church Appleton, Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church, Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, Ex Fabula/BRICO, Forward Community Investments. If you are interested in supporting this work, please contact us!