Author on tour to discuss the tragedy of gun violence
An author, hunter and National Rifle Association member will tour Nebraska and Kansas later this month to share his vision of what the world would be like without gun violence.
The Rev. James Atwood’s speeches and community events are scheduled for March 15-22 in Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita in Kansas and in Omaha,
Lincoln and Grand Island in Nebraska. His visit corresponds with the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath.
Atwood, author of the book “America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose,” has been working to prevent gun violence since 1975, when he rushed to the bedside of a member of his congregation who lay dying. The man had been shot by a teenager who picked up a gun from a friend at a bowling alley and then went in search of money. Though Atwood has been a deer hunter and gun owner for more than 55 years and has been a member of the National Rifle Association, he believes gun violence is a national health crisis that must be addressed.
From 1959 until his retirement in 1999, Atwood served as pastor of three Presbyterian churches in North Carolina and Virginia. He also served as chairperson of the Greater Washington, D.C., chapter of Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based movement to encourage gun shops to adopt a code of conduct aimed at deterring illegal purchases and trafficking of handguns.
Atwood has been quoted as saying he believes there are profound spiritual implications that outweigh political leanings regarding the prevalence of guns and violence in our communities. He believes the faith community has a responsibility to provide strategy and find ways to help curb violence.
Atwood’s series of discussions come at the request of the Mercy and Justice team, which is heeding the call from the 2014 Great Plains Annual Conference session, which adopted a resolution titled “Christians Respond to Gun Violence.” The resolution calls for, among other things, United Methodists to join with the United Methodist Women and the General Board of Church & Society to support efforts of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence and for Great Plains congregations to participate in National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend.
People of all faiths are invited to take part in Atwood’s discussions. The planned events are:
Sunday, March 15 (events in Kansas)
9 a.m. Sunday school at Lawrence First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St..
10:30 a.m. preaching at Lawrence Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Massachusetts St.
3 p.m. summit with legislators and law enforcement officials at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Topeka, 2801 SE Indiana St.
7 p.m. preach at interfaith worship service at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Topeka, 1100 SE Washington St.
Monday, March 16 (event in Nebraska)
7 p.m. discussion at Lincoln South Gate United Methodist Church, 3500 Pioneers Blvd.
Tuesday, March 17 (events in Nebraska)
11:30 a.m. discussion at Omaha Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, 5544 Ames Ave.
7 p.m. discussion at Omaha First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass St.
Wednesday, March 18 (events in Nebraska)
1 p.m. discussion following noon Lenten devotion at Columbus First United Methodist Church, 2710 14th St.
7 p.m. discussion at Grand Island Trinity United Methodist Church, 511 N. Elm St.
Thursday, March 19 (event in Kansas)
10 a.m. – Speech at the Planning Committee for the fall symposium, followed by lunch with local NAACP members, both in conference room 2 of the Salina Regional Health Center, 400 S. Santa Fe St., in Salina.
3 p.m. – Meet with area youth members at the Salina Art Center, 242 S. Santa Fe St., in Salina.
7 p.m. discussion at Bethel College’s Krehbiel Auditorium, 2515 College Ave. North, in Newton.
Friday, March 20 (event in Kansas)
9 a.m. – Workshop on using the language of faith to discuss gun violence, followed by lunch with workers in the social services, mental health, public health and law enforcement in conference room 5 of the Salina Regional Health Center, 400 S. Santa Fe St., in Salina.
2:30 p.m. – Meeting with educators to discuss the challenge of preventing violence, little sanctuary of Salina University United Methodist Church, 1509 S. Santa Fe St.
7 p.m. – Discussion titled “Witnessing Against Violence in the Community: A Gathering of Churches” in the main sanctuary of Salina University United Methodist Church, 1509 S. Santa Fe St.
Saturday, March 21 (event in Kansas)
9 a.m. workshop at Wichita Woodland United Methodist Church, 1100 W. 15th St. North, that involves small-group strategizing on the issue. The $10 registration fee includes lunch. Call the church office at 316-265-6669.
Sunday, March 22 (event in Kansas)
Preach at Unitarian Universalist Church in Manhattan
Atwood’s speaking events are organized and sponsored by the Mercy & Justice Team of The Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas in Wichita and Nebraskans For Peace.