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The United Church of Christ: two decades of demanding gun control 

By Anne Bokma

The United Church of Canada’s new partner in the United States has a long tradition of supporting gun control legislation. The United Church of Christ (UCC), with which The United Church of Canada entered into full communion last year, began calling for tighter gun laws two decades ago.

“We have allowed fear and apathy to rule when it comes to guns in America,” says Rev. Matthew Crebbin, pastor of Newtown Congregational UCC in Newtown, Conn., where the Sandy Hook killings took place in 2012. “We have allowed the status quo to become perfectly acceptable. As a result, every year thousands of precious lives — each one created in God’s image — are added to a tally that is already far too high.”

The UCC has 5,000 congregations and roughly one million members, so it has some clout. Its new partnership with The United Church of Canada might give the faith-based gun control effort some additional moral leverage. Both Crebbin and Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, D.C., point to Canada, with a gun death rate 10 times lower than the United States, as proof that “Canadians can offer a different vision of a society where gun violence is not the norm,” says Sorensen.

Sorensen asks the UCC’s cousins in Canada to “stand in solidarity with folks in the U.S. who are trying to make change.” Crebbin adds that the two churches share “a commitment to justice and peace initiatives. One of the ways people in the United Church can help is through prayer — just as individuals need to know they are being held in prayer at difficult times, communities also need to know there are those outside their immediate circles who are offering prayers of support and concern.”

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