On Thursday afternoon, a group of us gathered at McPherson Square (where Julius Rivera’s cell meets, 10:45am Sundays) to pray for the four people killed in Philly by gun violence last weekend (including a four-year-old), and to protest the illegal sale of guns in our neighborhoods. Ten others were also shot over the weekend, including a twenty-five-year-old female police officer. The Inquirer articles about it are here and here. Heeding God’s Call has been active for seven years in asking hard questions to gun shop owners and law makers. Their executive director led us to the right question—where did the guns come from? There is information available, but there is a federal restriction on making the info public.
I was moved by the prayers and sharing, and felt grateful that Circle of Hope has been partnering in prayers and gatherings with Heeding God’s Call since they got going. Drug-related killings went up in 2015. People don’t have jobs or economic opportunity, our school budgets are inadequate, and the powers that be just keep squeezing the powerless, and I’m sure there are lots of reasons why violence invades a community. I even spent time after the vigil brainstorming how to create jobs, but reducing the number of guns on the street needs to happen now. In the hopeless moment of a child dying in an accidental gun shooting, I look at Jesus’s sad face and get realigned and renewed to see my neighbors, care about who is shooting and getting shot, and act by showing up at the vigils and by building a safe place where Jesus shows us how to live in peace. The vigils and protests that Heeding God’s Call organized, closed the worst gun shop in Philly a few years ago—it is important work, it is peaceful, and it is a good thing to do for our spiritual health and for our neighbors’ lives. Building the body of Christ and being radically inclusive in all of our neighborhoods is important, peaceful, and the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.
The next vigil is May 14th. I’m going, and I hope you can make it too!
-Martha Grace, reporting
Martha Grace is a Cell Leader Coordinator and Director of Circle Thrift, and a covenant member who attends Frankford Ave.