Overture Advocate Testimony on 09-07/Gun Violence

Image from Office of Public Witness, PC(U.S.A.)

Image from Office of Public Witness, PC(U.S.A.)

My name is Shannan Vance-Ocampo and I serve as the Transitional Presbyter to Albany Presbytery which encompasses 67 congregations and 6,471 active members and 125 teaching elders. I am here today as that Presbytery’s overture advocate.

I want you to look at this specific overture, 09-07. It calls for timely updates to the previous policy of the PCUSA, Gun Violence, Gospel Values, passed by the 219th General Assembly in 2010. This policy is excellent and covers much of the ground needed for advocacy and work in the PCUSA around our response to gun violence and our priority call as peacemakers. Unfortunately there are gaps, not in this policy—but because the scourge of gun violence has increased in the last four years. Each of the specific asks in overture 09-07 before you today seek to address these gaps. Please send items #1-4 in this overture to the Assembly in their entirety and without revision.

Item #5 is something new. Please send item #5 in the way set forward without revision to the full Assembly for vote. It provides resources for all entities of our denomination to set up clear and prophetic signage to proclaim that because we are Church we are gun-free zones. It is also cost neutral.

What will that do?

It might do nothing.

People with guns who want to kill will do just that.

We cannot prevent it.

That is not a reason to do nothing.

We are Christians.

We follow Jesus.

That is who we are.

Our faith requires us to be light in a broken and fearful world.

This overture gives another tool to congregations and individuals to proclaim their faith.

This overture gives additional and much-needed theological resourcing to beleaguered communities.

This overture reminds us of the call of Jesus to be clear about our faith and to proclaim our belief in life-abundant.

We participate in the sin of violence if we continue to be anything less than active and bold on this set of issues.

We follow Jesus.

That is our only test.

Albany Presbytery requests that you send overture 09-07 to the floor without exception.

Thank you to members of this committee for your service to this General Assembly. You are in my prayers.

Thank you Mr. Moderator.

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