Call for A Season of Pentecost for Gun Violence Prevention

Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Posted Apr 24, 2023

The “Knotted Gun” sculpture at the United Nations Headquarters

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) calls The Episcopal Church to A Season of Pentecost for Gun Violence Prevention.  This is a call to deepen our commitment as people of faith to confront the epidemic of gun violence through action at the grassroots level, in our parishes and dioceses. It is time to build on the work of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, as well as EPF’s Gun Violence Curriculum and our other resources and campaigns. This is an invitation to open the church doors to the winds of the Pentecost Spirit, pledging to engage in specific actions for gun violence prevention in the Pentecost season, from Whitsunday to Advent 2023.

Why now?  None of us can avoid the horrific news: one hundred mass shootings in the first 65 days of 2023.  And it is not just mass shootings: an average of 114 Americans are losing their lives daily by firearms, many overcome by suicidal despair which takes the lives of 28,000 adults and children every year.  As we struggle against numbness and hopeless surrender to a new normal, we realize this is not just “news” for many of our neighbors.  African Americans suffer from poorer health, premature aging, and shorter life spans from the stress of “living while Black,” including the trauma of gun violence plus lethal policing in many communities.  Gun-related deaths are eight times higher for Black men than White men. These grim statistics are mirrored in other minority communities.

And then there are the children. Shockingly, the number one cause of death for our children and adolescents is not disease or automobile accidents, but death by firearms.  In 2020, 30% of child deaths by firearms were suicides, 5% were unintentional deaths, and 65% were by violent assault.  “Living while a child” now includes active shooter drills in school.  What was a safe space for many has become a new source of fear and anxiety.

Living this reality, we are torn between feelings of rage and powerlessness to stop the epidemic of gun violence that has taken over 40,000 lives each year since 2020.  Yet as people of the Jesus Movement, we can find power to act in the Spirit of Pentecost, which is the Spirit of Life, abundant life, for ourselves and our neighbors.  The Spirit of Pentecost challenges the Spirit of Death at work in our nation that promotes widespread access to guns, rooted in the fear-based assumption that guns will make us safe. The idolization of firearms has led us to a dystopia of death for 40,000 people each year, as well as the tragedy of wounds, both physical and emotional, for many thousands more.

Where will the Spirit of Pentecost take us?  In each parish, in each community, a commitment to act for gun violence prevention will be unique.  EPF has compiled a resource page on our new website,, offering user-friendly options for action. This initial list is designed to grow as parishes share their effective actions for gun violence prevention.  The page is organized in three categories: liturgical action, public witness and legislative advocacy.  Visit the website to find ideas and ‘how-to’ instructions, such as: incorporate gun violence into the Prayers of the People; organize a civic resolution to support “National Gun Violence Awareness Day” in June; partner with advocacy groups in your area, such as Brady United or Moms Demand Action, to promote common sense gun laws.

We urge you to visit the website and study the options for action as a first step into your parish’s Season of Pentecost for Gun Violence Prevention.