On Wednesday, March 14, in collaboration with interfaith partners and grassroots organizers in the Pioneer Valley, Episcopal Church youth and bishops will stand peacefully for one hour, 3-4 p.m., outside the gates of Smith and Wesson (2100 Roosevelt Avenue) in Springfield. Speakers will include Episcopal youth, along with the bishops of both Massachusetts Episcopal dioceses and other interfaith leaders and local partners.
Smith and Wesson is the point of production for the gun used to kill 17 people in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14 and in two other mass shootings--in Aurora, Colo., and San Bernadino, Calif.
Inspired by the direct and compelling action of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the March 14 action at Smith and Wesson is being led by youth and supported by adults in the community of faith. Clergy and adult leaders are invited to accompany youth to this action. It is taking place on the one-month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shootings and on the day that many youth will participate in a national school walk-out for 17 minutes--one minute for each life lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
The convergence of interfaith and local partners is to organizers both a sign of hope and an indication of movement toward the goal of removing weapons of war from streets and schools. As of March 12, the following entities are co-sponsoring the March 14 peaceful action in Springfield:
•Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
•Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
•B-PEACE for Jorge antiviolence campaign of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
•The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice
•Episcopal City Mission
•Pioneer Valley Project
•Springfield Public Schools students and teachers
•Students and teachers from Boston and Holyoke
•Alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
•Leaders from Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
•Supporters from If Not Now
Clergy participants are asked to wear clerical attire and purple stoles; all are invited to wear purple if they choose.
Questions about the March 14 action in Springfield may be directed to St. Stephen's Church, Boston organizer Sarah O'Connor at email@example.com.
In a statement from its March 6-9 meeting in Texas, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops called on Episcopalians to make March 14 a day of lamentation for those lost to gun violence. The statement encourages Episcopalians to move from prayer to action.
Many youth, congregations and clergy plan to participate in the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., Boston, Northampton, Worcester and Springfield on Saturday, March 24. In Boston, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) will provide hospitality and youth organizing activities to march-goers on March 24, opening at 10 a.m.