Outside Wayne Presbyterian Church more that 120 suburban residents joined a gun violence awareness vigil April 10. The Wayne church has initiated unique efforts to improve quality of life in Southwest during the past 25 years.
By Pamela Jensen
Damp and rainy conditions were no obstacle to the approximately 120 participants in the interfaith Gun Violence Awareness Vigil held in downtown Wayne on Sunday afternoon, April 11. The event was Sponsored by Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence and five local churches, Central Baptist, First Baptist, St. Mary’s Episcopal, Wayne United Methodist, and Wayne Presbyterian.
The Vigil began at Wayne United Methodist Church with welcoming remarks by Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call. Buttressed by prayer and song, the group then slowly walked through the center of Wayne, witnessing to the carnage of gun violence with signs carried aloft. Stops were made at Central Baptist, Wayne Presbyterian, and St. Mary’s Episcopal churches for brief remembrances, musical offerings, and prayer.
The Vigil ended back at Wayne United Methodist Church with a call to action, closing prayer, and letter-writing to our representatives in Washington, DC and Harrisburg, urging them to act on legislation to end gun violence.
On the front lawns of the four participating downtown Wayne churches, volunteers from the respective congregations had erected displays of t-shirts on crossbars to memorialize those killed by gun violence. This “Memorial to the Lost” now contains over 400 t-shirts, each bearing the name, age, and date of death of a victim killed with a gun in Philadelphia in 2020. The Vigil’s call to action sought to inspire people of faith to work to end this heart-breaking, senseless, and all-too-common violence, many of which are perpetrated by individuals bearing illegal handguns.
The organizers expressed their gratitude to the officers from the Radnor Police Department who were on-site to ensure the safety of all participants throughout the walk.
The participation of Wayne Presbyterian was part of its quarter-century of involvement in social justice outreach in Southwest Philadelphia. The church has initiated such unique urban-suburban efforts as the CityLights Ministry, the Common Cents Investment Club, and The Common Place community center at 58th Street and Chester Avenue (See www.waynepres.org
For more information on Heeding God’s Call’s activities, visit ContactHeeding@gmail.com)
(Pamela Jensen is a member of the Social Justice Committee of Wayne Presbyterian Church)