“Campaign Against Gun Violence” History at First Church in Boston
In the wake of the Newtown shootings in December of 2012, the Social Justice Community held a meeting to discuss how it might help address problems of gun violence. As a result of that meeting, the Campaign Against Gun Violence (CAGV) was formed in January 2013. This new group was immediately involved in bringing educational information concerning gun violence to the congregation through written materials and high profile speakers. Members of First Church in Boston voted to join the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which soon included 35 additional organizations. Jesse Jaeger of UU Mass Action approved that organization’s signing on as a Coalition member as well; Ellie Miller agreed to represent UUMA as well as FCB at Coalition meetings.
In March of 2013, CAGV featured John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence as speaker and supplemented his talk with the film “Living for 32.” The event was highly successful in terms of attendance (well over 100) and in engaging the attention of all. September 15 was the date of our first program of the 2013-14 church year: “Reducing Gun Violence: What can our legislatures do? What can we do?” Speakers included State Representative David Linsky and Angus McQuilken of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.
December 14, 2013 was the first anniversary of the Newtown tragedy. The MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence sponsored an afternoon of commemorative events held at FCB. Speakers included Mayor-Elect Marty Walsh, Congressman John Tierney, State Representatives David Linsky, Hank Naughton, and Tom Conroy, Cindy Diggs, John Rosenthal, Molly Malloy, Kim Odom, Tina Chery, and John Hill, all noted leaders in the movement to prevent gun violence. A candlelight service of remembrance followed.
On December 11, 2014 we held a Candlelight Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, We are All Touched by Gun Violence, as part of a National Vigil. Featured speakers were Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, Bishop Alan Gates of the Episcopal Diocese, Rabbi Jill Perlman of Lexington’s Temple Isaiah, members of B-PEACE for Jorge and Rev. Kendrick of FCB. Attendance was over 200.
Our 2015 Vigil , #EndGunViolence, one of 500 events held nationally and coordinated by the Newtown Foundation, took place December 9, 2015. Speakers included Prof. Jack McDevitt, of Northeastern U., Rabbi Jill Perlman, Boston Police Superintendent Randall Halstead, members of B-PEACE, Rev. Kendrick and Rev. Tim House of FCB. Additional highlights were the candlelighting for each of the 2015 Boston gun homicide victims, candlelighting for each of the states, and music by Leo Eguchi (cello) and Paul Cienniwa (piano). Attendance was about 125. Our yearly vigils have been co-sponsored by the MA Coalition to Prevent Violence.