Young Clergy Forum focuses on advocacy
This year's annual Young Clergy Forum included, for the first time, a “Day on the Hill” focus delivering a message of encouragement to support common sense solutions to gun violence.
This year’s annual Young Clergy Forum included, for the first time, a “Day on the Hill” focus. The clergy spent two hours visiting 31 Senate offices and one member of the House of Representatives.
At each stop they delivered a message of encouragement to support common sense solutions to gun violence.
John Hill, assistant general secretary for advocacy and organizing, said, “More than anything, we want them to establish contact [with congressional offices] and feel comfortable following up with congressional staff on those issues most critical in their home contexts. If this happened, we count the outreach effort a great success.”
The focus of the visits built on a morning forum on gun violence prevention.
The first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was very much on the participant’s minds. But a panel of leaders in the movement to end gun violence reminded participants that most deaths from guns come as a result of suicide, most gun deaths are not from mass shootings, and black men suffer a disproportionate number of gun deaths.
Mary Ward, a gun violence prevention advocate from the Virginia Annual Conference, shared, “Three and a half years ago my son Adam, 27 years of age, was tragically taken from us, yet another victim in a senseless act of gun violence.” She went on to describe how she found support in her church, St. Marks UMC, in Daleville, Virginia, and from her pastor, the Rev. Rob Lough, who was also a panelist.
“Public speaking is very difficult for me, but I feel like I must speak,” she said. “I just pray by telling my story it will help us move toward a day where other mothers and fathers will not have to experience what we have gone through.”
The Young Clergy Leadership Forum is an annual gathering and will take place again Jan. 26-29, 2020. Each Annual Conference is invited to send up to two young clergy, with a limit of about 50 participants per year.
This year’s forum included 53 young clergy representing 29 annual conferences.
Conferences represented included: Alabama-West Florida, Arkansas, Baltimore-Washington, California-Nevada, East Ohio, Florida, Great Plains, Greater New Jersey, Kentucky, Kenya-Ethiopia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Mountain Sky, New England, Nigeria, North Alabama, North Carolina, North Georgia, Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Peninsula-Delaware, South Carolina, Susquehanna, Texas, Upper New York, Western North Carolina, Western Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.