With the horror and devastation of the Isla Vista shootings still fresh, the Program Group on Peace and Justice urges all individuals, families, congregations and institutions of the Diocese of Los Angeles to respond to the violence by cultivating cultures of peace and to participate in the upcoming June 21 “ASK — Asking Saves Kids” anti-violence campaign.

“We realize that each person and congregation may have a different vision of what peace looks like,” says Patricia Terry, peace and justice program group chair.

One response came in the form of a May 31 “Soul Break” concert featuring “N2K,” the musical duo of the Rev. Norm Freeman on vibraphones and Katherine Cash on violin at St. George’s Church in Laguna Hills, “dedicated to the memory and healing of all the victims in Isla Vista” with proceeds going to the Episcopal Campus Ministry at UC Santa Barbara.

But one preventative is to participate in the “ASK” campaign, a collaboration of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics that encourages parents to include an additional question to those they normally ask before allowing their children to play away from home: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”

According to the ASK website:

  • 80 percent of unintentional firearm deaths of children under age 15 occur in homes;
  • one in three homes with children have guns, many left unlocked or loaded;
  • nine children and teens are shot each day in gun accidents.

Some program group members attended the church-wide gathering April 9 – 11 in Oklahoma City, “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence,” intended to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a violent world and “reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace.” Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool served on the planning committee.

Program group members also encouraged members of the diocesan family to join the rallying cry of Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was among the six people killed in the May 23 Isla Vista shootings: “Not One More.”

Those interested may do so by sending a postcard to their elected officials bearing Martinez’s cry ‘Not One More’ by visiting the website at everytown.org.

Bishop Glasspool, along with program group members, also affirmed the need for churches to cultivate a culture of peace in a recent Just Action video (bit.ly/1vW3VNc).

Terry added, “We just want to encourage each person and congregation to do what they can in their own spheres of influence — home, places of work, neighborhood, family and friends).

“For some, it may be putting up ‘Gun-Free Zone’ stickers in their parish hall. For others, it may mean posting a list of the names of those who are victims of violence. For some, it might be a decision to be a kinder person. Others may decide to organize a nonviolent demonstration for peace.”

Stay tuned, added Terry, because the program group “will be offering ways that people can respond” peacefully in the face of violence.