Loving Like Jesus in Difficult Times | The #schoolsafetymovement

 

We face divisive issues as a nation today, and certain circumstances can be even more difficult for our youth who are still developing ways to process the conflicting voices they hear through social media, news, family, and friends.

For many of our youth, there’s a great sense of urgency to act in light of the recent violence in Parkland, Florida and the brutal deaths of 17 students and faculty and injuries to 14 others. Youth survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are leading a rising chorus of young voices demanding real changes to address the issue of their safety. Many of our children are fearful, with a deep need both to talk and to take action to address their fears.

Jesus teaches us to not be afraid: he is always with us, loving us and guiding us. By his example, he teaches us to begin with love: to love our neighbors, to respect the dignity of every human being, and to lovingly act as his hands and feet in the world. With God’s help, we can open our own hearts and encourage everyone we encounter to set aside their preconceived notions and listen to one another, have civil discourse, and find common goals in order to work together through these difficult and challenging problems. Each week in Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world, people from every party, every opinion, and every experience come together around one common table. We all outstretch our hands and receive the same body and blood of Christ no matter what. The table is our common ground, Jesus is our common food, and we must meet one another there now more than ever.

The safety of our children is not a partisan issue. We need to find better ways to protect our children in school where they should be safe to learn and free from fear. Thanks be to God that we are blessed with the God-given gifts that will enable us to make meaningful strides in solving complex issues. When we come together in community to strive for justice and peace, while respecting the dignity of every human being, change happens.

Have conversations with your children. Encourage your youth ministers to create safe spaces for dialogue about guns and safety. Let us use this time, as we deal with this most recent tragedy, to learn how to deal with difficult issues while loving like Jesus.

Here are some of the upcoming events that your youth may speak to you about, as they strive to deal with taking action to address the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.

Just the Facts 

March for our Lives: This is a grassroots movement led by the surviving teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School. The purpose of the organization is to raise awareness of both public/school safety and gun issues. You can read the purpose statement of March for our Lives
here.

March 14: Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, and allies to take part in a National School Walkout for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 killed in Parkland, Fl, at 10 a.m.

March 24:  Student organizers, including those from Parkland, Fl, are planning March for our Lives, a march in Washington, D.C. to call for school safety and gun control. There is a march scheduled for Atlanta and many major U.S. cities on the same day. Many young adults of our Diocese have organized to march in support of the #schoolsafetymovement. This movement, centered around school safety, was started by our young adults a week after the shooting. If you feel called to march with them, you can register as a marcher here.

April 20: A growing movement titled National School Walkout is being called for by Connecticut students that live near Sandy Hook Elementary school, the location of a mass school shooting in 2012 where 20 students and 6 staff members were killed. The plan calls for high school students to walk out on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. No time has been specified.

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With God’s Love and Peace, The Rev. Bonnie Underwood and The Rev. Ashley Lytle in collaboration with the Offices of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Diocese of Atlanta