[Washington National Cathedral — Press Release] Washington National Cathedral announced today that it will bring together religious leaders, policy makers, victims of gun violence, youth and people of faith at the nationwide Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, which will take place March 14 through 17. Organized in partnership with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of nearly 50 denominations and faith-based organizations, the events will provide an opportunity for open discourse on gun violence prevention with particular focus on how faith-based efforts can encourage changes in gun control policy.
The program begins Thursday, March 14, with a discussion of effective gun prevention strategies, and culminates on Sunday morning, March 17, at a worship service in which the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, will preach and encourage continued action by people of faith. Participants include members of Congress, gun control advocates, law enforcement officials, medical and mental health professionals, and leaders of many faiths.
The climactic event of the weekend will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 as the Cathedral hosts a national conversation about faith-inspired public policy to eradicate gun violence. Special guests who will attend the conversation include James and Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty who represents Newtown, Conn., as well as other preeminent leaders of faith communities nationwide. Media are encouraged to attend the conversation as the central event of the weekend.
To support the weekend’s nationwide Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, the Cathedral and its partners are offering spiritual and educational resources and recruiting hundreds of houses of worship across the country to participate in the Sabbath weekend in their respective settings.
These unique series of faith-based events will foster unity and hope among participants, who will be given the chance to reflect on gun-related incidents, comment on the shocking prevalence of gun violence and the inadequacies of current gun laws, and propose viable solutions to diminish gun violence and ensure the safety of the American people.
Media is invited and press coverage of all these events is welcome. To attend, please RSVP to Meredith MacKenzie at (202) 265-3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org at least two days in advance of each event.
Thursday, March 14
7:00 p.m.: Speaking From Experience: Seasoned Leaders Offer Solutions
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and the Cathedral community will discuss the complexity of gun violence with seasoned leaders. Participants include R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis, Dr. Arthur Kellerman, director of the Rand Institute and Assistant Chief Patrick Burke, Washington, D.C. Police Department.
Friday, March 15
8:45 a.m.: Assembling the Cathedral Close Community (Closed Press)
Washington, D.C.’s nationally recognized Police Chief Cathy Lanier will join Mayor Rybak and Dr. Kellerman for a discussion moderated by Bishop Budde on gun violence in our community and beyond. This event will convene students, faculty, and staff of the two Cathedral upper schools, Cathedral and Foundation staff for a time of reflection and togetherness for the community on this important subject.
10:00 a.m.: Prayers for the Nation
Throughout the day, the Cathedral will be open to visitors for private reflection. Special prayers for an end to gun violence and for the nation will be offered every hour at the 45-minute time.
Saturday, March 16
11:00 a.m.: Opening Worship
A special service will give participants time to reflect and pray on the serious problem of gun violence as well as mourn through song and scripture those who have been killed by guns.
11:20 a.m.: Discussion on Violence in our Local Communities
In this session, urban faith leaders from Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Md., and Chicago will discuss how their communities have been plagued by gun violence and recommend solutions to uphold safety within their cities. Panelists include the Rev. Dr. Delman L. Coates, senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md.; the Rev. Carol Reese, Episcopal chaplain at Stroger Hospital in Chicago and the Rev. Alvin Herring of the PICO National Network.
CENTRAL GATHERING– 12:30 p.m.: National Conversation—Faith-Inspired Public Policy on Gun Violence
To eradicate the rampant gun violence that has beleaguered many communities, common sense gun legislation is necessary. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, joins with James and Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Congressman Chris Van Hollen to call for swift legislative action on gun violence. Along with national interfaith leaders, the hour will explore national gun policy initiatives through a faith-based perspective.
1:30 p.m.: Interfaith Discussion Featuring Prominent Faith Leaders
This discussion, moderated by Bishop Budde, will explore how faith’s teachings compel believers to act on issues like gun control. The interfaith leaders including Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Rajwant Singh, founder of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, and the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, will discuss the importance of uniting practices across diverse religious traditions to inspire collective action.
2:30 p.m.: Closing Prayer
This interfaith worship concluding the Saturday events will integrate prayer and music, motivating each of us to take action rooted in faith.
Sunday, March 17
10:10 a.m.: Sunday Forum – The Roots of Gun Violence
Whether it is discord in a family or violence in a community, the place of reconciliation in the social sphere is rife with complexity and divergent appeals to justice. Who is to blame? What should happen to the offender—and the offended? These and other related questions are addressed daily in our school and legal system. Psychologist and advocate Lauren Abramson will speak about restoration in our society as well as to the hope that such restoration might offer to people in conflict.
11:15 AM: Sunday Worship Service
As part of the local Cathedral community’s own response, the weekend concludes with the regular Sunday service of Holy Eucharist at which Dean Hall will provide another bold call to action on the topic of gun violence.