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End Gun Violence

Mass shootings are defined as four or more people shot, not including the shooter. By that definition, according to the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive, USAmerica has experienced 255 mass shootings so far in 2019. Today, August 9th, is only the 221st day of 2019.

It is indisputable that our country has an addiction to violence, an addiction to guns, and an addiction to gun violence. So what are we United Methodists doing in response to all this abhorrent violence and death?

We're praying, of course. Because our strength and resolve and grace comes from God: our Source of love and all that is good, right, true, and just.

And we are speaking out. Our Northern Illinois Conference Bishop, the Rev. Sally Dyck:

I urge all churches to pray for the victims of violence and death across this country again this week. We too easily slip into “moving on,” forgetting how many families will never “move on” after last weekend alone. Theologian Miroslav Volf said, “There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to resolve.” We must endeavor “to do something,” as the crowd chanted at the governor of Ohio following the tragedy in Dayton. How will we resolve the violence, specifically related to guns, in our nation? What is our will to do so?

Read Bishop Dyck's full statement here.

As the United Methodist News Services writes: 

United Methodists have long looked for ways to stop gun violence in all its forms. The denomination’s Book of Resolutions encourages congregations to advocate for such measures as universal background checks for all gun purchases and bans on large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled. In both El Paso and Dayton, the suspected gunmen were armed with assault weapons and extra magazines.

How does the aforementioned Book of Resolution address gun violence? With a detailed, prophetic, scripture-soaked vision of a world freed from gun violence. Here's a taste:

"As followers of Jesus, called to live into the reality of God’s dream of shalom as described by Micah, we must address the epidemic of gun violence so “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in God’s paths.” Therefore, we call upon United Methodists to prayerfully address gun violence in their local context."

Some of the ways the Resolution calls on us to address gun violence:

"For congregations to make preventing gun violence a regular part of our conversations and prayer times. Gun violence must be worshipfully and theologically reflected upon."

"For congregations to assist those affected by gun violence through prayer, pastoral care, creating space, and encouraging survivors to share their stories, financial assistance, and through identifying other resources in their communities as victims of gun violence and their families walk through the process of grieving and healing."

"For United Methodist congregations to partner with local law-enforcement agencies and community groups to identify gun retailers that engage in retail practices designed to circumvent laws on gun sales and ownership."

"For United Methodist congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence. Some of those measures include:

  • Universal background checks on all gun purchases
  • Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty
  • Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers
  • Prohibiting all individuals convicted of violent crimes from purchasing a gun for a fixed time period
  • Prohibiting all individuals under restraining order due to threat of violence from purchasing a gun
  • Prohibiting persons with serious mental illness, who pose a danger to themselves and their communities, from purchasing a gun
  • Ensuring greater access to services for those suffering from mental illness
  • Establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession
  • Banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled"

My hope and prayer is that we here at Woodridge UMC will continue to be people actively praying and speaking and working to end gun violence. 

In which ways will you join this effort?




Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with

21 out of 25

As I often proclaim, I am bad at math. But sometimes the numbers are so easy to figure, even I can see it: 25-4=21. 

For 21 out of the last 25 years -- in other words, from July 1994 until now, July 2019 -- Woodridge UMC has had a female Lead Pastor. We recently celebrated Pastor Danita's official reappointment, meaning that number will continue to grow. The United Methodist Church has ordained women for more than 50 years-- and the earliest known woman ordained to preach came in 1866! So our little statistic really shouldn't be that big of a deal. But I'm convinced that it is. 

Here at WUMC, with that 21 out of 25 number, we're so used to having women as Lead Pastor we may be fooled into thinking women are doing fine in churches everywhere -- or at least all over the UMC.

Yet, even in the UMC, women make up only about 25% of our clergy. Further, women of color make up only about 4% of our clergy. Male pastors are more likely than female pastors to be appointed to biggest congregation and the wage gap is especially egregious with female clergy paid 76 cents for every dollar a male colleague makes. As followers of Jesus, seeking justice is our calling. Having an unjust and unequal pay system for our clergy makes for a horrendous witness. That is wrong and needs to change.

Simultaneously, we have to continue to change hearts regarding female clergy. This is obviously true in the larger Christian landscape where the two biggest denominations (Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics) refuse to ordain women at all; and very, very few nondenominational evangelical churches do. But hearts and attitudes need to change in the UMC as well.

Here's a video the North Carolina Conference of the UMC recently released. The Conference emailed its female clergy asking for comments they have received about being a woman in ministry. For the video, male clergy colleagues were asked to read the responses*.

(I really wanted to embed the video here so you wouldn't have to follow a link to view it. But, alas, the tech isn't cooperating. Please click the link and watch the video from the NC Conference.)

We as a church and as a society need to do better and be better. As we strive toward that goal, let's give thanks to God for those 21  years and counting -- and give thanks for the ministry of The Reverend Linda Foster-Momsen, The Reverend Linda Misewicz-Perconte, and The Reverend Danita Anderson


*This reminds me so much of the award-winning video Chicago-based sports journalists, Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain, released a couple years ago. It's much more graphic, but very much worth your time and revulsion to watch


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