Bishop Gates to lead delegation to "Unholy Trinity" gun violence conference

Bishop Alan M. Gates will lead a delegation of 13 young people and adults representing the Diocese of Massachusetts and its B-PEACE for Jorge antiviolence campaign to Chicago this month for "Unholy Trinity," a churchwide conference exploring the intersection of racism, poverty and gun violence. 

"I look forward to the inspiration, ideas and resources we expect to Unholy Trinity glean from this event.  It will be good to learn from others who share a passion for addressing these intersecting challenges to peace in our communities," Gates said.  "I am especially proud to be bringing with our team several youth leaders from B-PEACE who will represent our diocese so well as they lead one of the event’s workshops."

The agenda for the April 20-22 conference includes speakers and discussions, along with Bible study, education and advocacy workshops and a prayerful procession to gun violence sites on Chicago’s South Side.  It is being sponsored by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a coalition of about 70 Episcopal Church bishops committed to curtailing gun violence in the United States.  Both Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris are members. 

At the conference, Diocese of Massachusetts delegation members, some of whom have heen working on gun violence issues on behalf of the diocese for more than five years, will offer a "Working with Youth" workshop featuring young leaders from the B-PEACE campaign.  By sharing the B-PEACE experience and model, they hope to inspire conference-goers to engage and equip young leaders in their own diocesan efforts to address gun violence in other areas of the country.

In comments provided by B-PEACE organizers, delegation member Tahnaree Evans, a B-PEACE leader and first-year student at Wheelock College, said she is excited to participate in the conference. 

"For me, it is about hearing from other leaders in different states, listening to what they are saying and doing to address these issues.  Learning is really important to me, especially on an issue as vital--as literally life and death--as gun violence," Evans said.

Kesanet Tesfazion, another B-PEACE leader and a senior at Boston Latin Academy, said, "I am interested in attending the 'Unholy Trinity' conference because I want to discuss the worldwide impacts of poverty, racism and gun violence and possible solutions that will spur change."

Attending the conference is one way that B-PEACE leaders are collaborating with the bishops, Episcopal City Mission and congregations to carry out the "Peace Building in the Diocese of Massachusetts" resolution adopted at last year's Diocesan Convention, particularly its call to establish ongoing conversations to increase understanding about the impact and root causes of gun violence. 

That diocesan resolution urges engagement in several other specific actions, including gun law reform advocacy; support for positive youth programs; creation of job opportunities and work with underresourced schools; and public witness to raise awareness about the urgent need to end gun violence.

In 2014 Bishops United Against Gun Violence convened about 300 Episcopalians in Oklahoma City to renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace, and one outcome of that gathering is the book Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace, a resource and study guide for use in addressing the culture of violence within and outside of the church.  The upcoming conference in Chicago will build on that foundation.

The Diocese of Massachusetts delegation to the "Unholy Trinity" conference comprises the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates; the diocesan chancellor, Ned Notis-McConarty; B-PEACE for Jorge/St. Stephen's Church, Boston leaders Laura Correafranco, Tahnaree Evans, Dominick Jackson, Victoria Omoregie, Kesanet Tesfazion, Maureen Burns and the Rev. Liz Steinhauser; and Episcopal City Mission-sponsored participants Heidi Horner of Christ Church in Hamilton, the Rev. Jack Clark of St. Elizabeth's Church in Sudbury, the Rev. Edwin Johnson of St. Mary's Church in Dorchester, Teka Lumumba of St. Stephen's Church in Lynn and the Rev. Noah Van Neil of the Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham.

The group invites the diocesan community's prayers for the conference and participation in report-backs and other actions it will plan upon its return.