Mimi Copp made me as proud as I have ever been about being associated with someone this week. Getting arrested in the effort to close down a sleazy gun shop notorious for supplying illegal weapons was amazing. Then hearing her feelings of liberation and words of prophecy, following, was inspiring. She was part of the conference I attended (on and off) last week. The following is a statement from the conference that I think is worth your time:
Heeding God’s Call
Where Hope Begins — Be There!
God is calling us to something larger than we thought! We are surrounded by despair and violence that seems insurmountable and feels overwhelming — in our world, in our city, in our lives. As people of faith & conscience we are called to affirm ways in which we and others can act in response to this litany of violence and despair.
A group of dedicated faith-based activists has been grappling for several months now, with the issue of gun violence that has plagued the city of Philadelphia, and many other cities and towns across the state and country. Associated with a national ecumenical peace gathering “Heeding God’s Call,” we have been struggling to know what we are called to in this place and in this time. We’ve been led by God’s Spirit to develop an engagement of 30 faith communities across the Delaware Valley to create a network of faith and action which will be initiated in the next few weeks, and continue as an ongoing effort of work, witness and advocacy for the very lives of our families and our communities. God is calling us to something larger than we thought!
Our immediate focus is a public outcry demanding that retailers of firearms accept a code of conduct that would dramatically reduce the illegal trafficking of handguns from Philadelphia gun shops that fuels the tide of violence. We hope to attract media attention, and bring a great deal of public pressure on these retailers. Bigger than that, we hope to create a movement amongst people of faith across the country to undertake similar actions in their cities and towns. God is calling us to something larger than we thought!
To make clear our commitment, we plan a demonstration and direct action on January 17, 2009 focused on one of Philadelphia’s largest purveyors of handguns, a notorious supplier to the illegal gun trade. To make clear the ultimate importance of this issue we have conceived an on-going presence at this (and possibly other) gun shops who profit from the illegal trade in handguns. We anticipate nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, with the intention of igniting a wildfire of hope and energy and commitment to make a difference and turn the tide of this plague of violence. God is calling us to something larger than we thought!
God is calling us to stand up and send a dramatic signal on behalf of the young people that suffer most from this epidemic of violence. They are the most vulnerable section of a most vulnerable population. They’ve lost friends and siblings, they’ve lost hope. Many have lost hope in us, lost hope that we have the will or the vision to DO SOMETHING about this. We need to send an unforgettable and convincing signal. We need to DO SOMETHING that speaks to them. Something that gives them hope. Something that gives voice to their anguish and substance to our claims to care about their futures. God is calling us to something larger than we thought!
We need to speak to, act on behalf of, encourage and inspire this generation of young people who are on the brink of despair and heart-numbed apathy. This is where hope begins. We need to show them that we are willing to risk, to sacrifice, to struggle for ourselves, for them and with them. They need to know that we are in for the long haul. This is where hope begins. They need to know that we will not give up on them. They need to know that we invite and encourage them to join us in support of the next generation(s). This is where hope begins. God is calling us to something larger than we thought!