Thursday, May 20, 2010

NCC Governing Board calls for end to gun violence.

Alarmed by statistics that 100,000 Americans annually are victims of gun violence, the National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for legislative action to limit access to assault weapons and hand guns.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger is a member of the Governing Board, which met May 17-18 in Elizabeth, N.J. He also serves as an at-large vice president on the executive committee of the NCC.

"Ending Gun Violence: A Resolution and Call to Action," also calls on Congress to close the "gunshow loophole" that allows buyers to purchase firearms from private sellers without submitting to background checks or providing documentation of the purchase.

The resolution calls on member churches to support the NCC staff "in coordinating ecumenical efforts for gun violence reduction," including the preparation of educational materials and establishing dialogue among gun owners and gun control advocates.

"Responsible gun ownership can be consistent with our constitutional rights," the resolution states. "However, it must be stressed that there are relatively few shootings by average citizens defending themselves. Rather, most fatal and non-fatal shootings result from abuse or misuse of guns." The resolution cites statistics that firearms are used in 1.5 million crimes annually in the United States. "More than 69,000 shootings each year are non-fatal, yet still leave in their wake a trail of pain, suffering, and/or disfigurement, and anguish and grief for family and community," the resolution states.

Among other business, the Governing Board also issued a pastoral letter urging US President Barack Obama and Congress to assure equal access to education for all children. The letter asks government leaders not to lose sight of the fact that public schools are the basic institution for educating the nation's children and urges the nation's leaders to help craft a system of education that looks upon children as unique and valuable individuals rather than "products to be tested." And the letter cautions politicians against scapegoating principals and teachers when schools fall short of arbitrary goals. Widespread childhood poverty is a tragic factor that should prompt all politicians to seek the most equitable and accessible system of education, the pastoral letter said.

The letter was drafted by the NCC's Education and Leadership Ministries Commission, with primary contributions from the Council's Committee on Public Education and Literacy.

The Governing Board pledged to partner in the work to reform education through a number of specific measures including: encouraging congregations to value public education and teachers through sermons, worship, and prayer; supporting parent education and adult literacy; encouraging congregations to partner with public schools to provide tutors, school supplies, exposure to computers and many other supports; supporting out-of-school supports like better and widely available pre-school and after school programs; and continuing to educate our members about the value of Community Schools that surround public schools with social supports.

The full text of the resolution against gun violence can be found at The full text of the pastoral letter on education can be found at

-- This report is taken from press releases by Philip E. Jenks, the National Council of Churches’ media relations specialist. A "Prayer for the Human Tragedy Behind Immigration," shared by José Luis Casal of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the NCC Governing Board meeting, has been posted on the General Secretary’s page of in both English and Spanish, go to

Source: 5/20/2010 Newsline

No comments: