From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
AMERICAN BAPTISTS RESPOND TO DC SHOOTINGS
28 Apr 2000 07:03:24
AMERICAN BAPTIST NEWS SERVICE
Office of Communication
American Baptist Churches USA
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
Phone: (610)768-2077 / Fax: (610)768-2320
Richard W. Schramm, Director
WASHINGTON SHOOTINGS INDICATIVE OF DEEP
SOCIETAL PROBLEMS, BAPTISTS NOTE
The shootings that wounded seven children last Monday
at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. have prompted
American Baptist leaders to call for meaningful responses to
the root causes of violence and alienation.
"There is a reality that in many of our cities there
are issues, not just of violence, but of poverty, of failing
educational systems, all kinds of social and economic issues
that diminish the quality of life," noted the Rev. Lynn
Bergfalk, senior minister at downtown Washington's Calvary
Baptist Church. Bergfalk, in comments reported on the
Disaster News Network of Church World Service, called for
the development of "the kinds of communities, the kinds of
quality of life, that address these issues at the root level
and not just respond emotionally when there's a crisis that
captures the public's attention."
Sherre Washington, of Florida Avenue Baptist Church,
also addressed larger societal issues in the Disaster News
Network report: "I do believe that they [youth committing
violent acts] are trying to send messages...they're hollering
out for somebody to do something.... It's a feeling of
hopelessness, anger, frustration, and they don't know how to
solve it or resolve it."
"We need more state and federal assistance to keep
handguns out of the hands of youth," said Terry Lynch,
executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.
Noting that the city's religious community long has
supported strong handgun control legislation, he said such
legislation will occur only when "there's enough public
outrage" over violence. The work of the Cluster, which
includes 36 congregations in the District of Columbia, has
been supported by American Baptists through three One Great
Hour of Sharing grants.
The Rev. Hector Cortez, associate executive director
of Biblical Justice for American Baptist National
Ministries, has been focusing attention on issues of youth
violence during the last year. "The National Zoo shooting
one day after Easter is a poignant reminder of the meaning
of Easter," he said. "Life without Christ is hollow for
many people, like the hollowness of a chocolate Easter
bunny. And we have once again discovered the hollow
rhetoric of safe streets, the hollow political will and
promises for stricter gun control legislation. Our children
deserve much more substantive belief and action. The true
meaning of the Easter message is that the fullness of life
is possible only when together we seek to end violence and
all its root causes."
Cortez urged American Baptists to "live out real faith
in a real world by doing everything in your power to create
a climate and culture of nonviolence."
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