Staff members of the United Church of Christ Washington D.C. office were invited to the White House Thursday morning by President Obama’s administration in recognition of the UCC efforts to make neighborhoods safer and protect families from gun violence. The invitation to stand with other faith groups at a White House briefing came as a pleasant surprise to the group working to further gun reform.
Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC’s offices in Washington, D.C., and the Rev. Michael Neuroth, policy advocate for international issues, were among the crowd of interfaith leaders who attended President Obama's news conference about upcoming gun legislation.
"We joined a diverse group of interfaith leaders, law enforcement officers, mayors and mothers of gun violence victims at a White House gathering with President Obama highlighting the need to strengthen gun violence prevention legislation at this pivotal time," Sorensen said.
The Senate is expected to consider firearms legislation in early April that would call for universal background checks prior to purchasing a gun, and strengthen measures to address gun trafficking. As part of an interfaith coalition’s ongoing efforts for gun violence prevention, the UCC is encouraging members to participate in "Faith Call-In Day" on April 9 to urge Congress to move forward with that proposed legislation.
UCC churches are also advocating for tougher policies to obtain firearms. First Church UCC in Washington, D.C., is launching an art exhibit, 'The Newtown Project: Art Targets,' that premiers April 5 and honors the 26 innocent schoolchildren and teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December. Newtown Congregational UCC (Newtown, Conn.) pastor the Rev. Matt Crebbin has also been busy advocating for gun reform in D.C, following up on a letter he wrote to Congress urging the passage of stricter gun laws.
"The faces of the mothers standing behind the President should be enough to convince us that we need to act now," Sorensen said. "Since the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 100 days ago, over 2,000 lives have been lost to gun violence. That should be enough to convince us to act. We can’t wait any longer. As the President said so powerfully, we’ve cried enough tears and seen enough heartache. We don’t need more platitudes. We can’t forget, and we need to act."