Leaders from across the United Church of Christ are joining the efforts of two interfaith groups seeking to lift up the voices of Americans outraged at gun violence.
"Violence cannot be tolerated any longer, and we are standing up to say that we love and respect all life," said the Rev. Sala W.J. Nolan, UCC minister for criminal justice and human rights.
The Lifeline to Healing Campaign brought together African-American clergy in Washington, D.C. to speak about reducing gun violence in urban areas on Tuesday as the National Council of Churches, a partnership of 37 churches throughout the U.S., ramps up a campaign to advocate a call-in day around the issue.
At Tuesday's media briefing in Washington, D.C., four women from the UCC joined other prominent African-American clergy because "every child's life is important no matter what city, no matter what part of the city or the state they are coming from," said Nolan.
Accompanying Nolan were the Rev. Waltrina Middleton, minister for youth advocacy and leadership formation; the Rev. Yvonne Delk, the first African-American female ordained in the UCC; and Dr. Iva Carruthers, a UCC member and secretary general of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, an African-American social justice group.
The Lifeline to Healing Clergy Group called for an end to gun violence in urban areas and for people to press the White House and Congress to create a "national moral voice to reduce gun violence in urban areas."
Both the Lifeline to Healing Campaign and the NCC are supporting the same measures proposed by the Obama Administration — increased criminal background checks on all gun sales, a ban on high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, and tougher federal gun trafficking laws.
"Given the number of our children and young folks who are dying not only in Newtown, Conn., but in Chicago, Ill., on the street, in Detroit on the street and in New Orleans on the street," Delk said, "it is time for a moral outrage at the death of our children and our young, a moral dialogue that will have us strategizing for what we can do to stop the culture of violence, and moral action to address both the public policy and the programs that are needed to interrupt this violence trend in these United States. The time is now, and it's urgent."
On Monday, Feb. 4, the NCC will launch an interfaith religious call-in day to Congress, the second step it will take this year to speak out against gun violence. The NCC joined its interfaith partners last month after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and called for a unified effort in the faith community to address the problem by sending letters to government leaders.
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president and general minister of the UCC, was one of 47 faith leaders to sign a letter to the White House and Congress for increased gun violence prevention measures on behalf of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition representing more than 40 denominations and 80 million members of the faith community across the United States.
The NCC has made an online toolkit available around its call-in action for use by churches and their congregations.