LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR was a resolution submitted to the SPAS Conference Assembly last Saturday. It was narrowly focused to encourage congregations and individuals to hold political candidates’ feet to the fire on gun violence prevention (GVP). It passed unanimously, with many questions probing deeply into the implications. Bishop Lull was in attendance and appreciative of the narrow focus. It is timely for this election year. Here it is.

WHEREAS, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself …. do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27-28b

WHEREAS, in 2019, the City of St. Paul suffered the worst gun death period in its history with 30 deaths, double from 2018. The overwhelming majority of victims were men of color, most commonly black, even though St. Paul is predominantly white and 50% female;

WHEREAS, in 2017, 465 Minesotans lost their lives by gun violence with 365 or 79% of those being by suicide;

WHEREAS, in 2019, nearly 40,000 Americans lost their lives by gun violence in the United States with 61% being by suicide;

WHEREAS, the rate of gun violence in the United States is many tines higher compared with most Western Developed Nations;

WHEREAS, 2020 is an election year when we will elect leaders to formulate laws on gun violence prevention for the common good;

WHEREAS, ENGAGE has resources available for congregational study on;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the SPAS in Assembly urge congregations and individuals to act upon Jesus’ injunctions to love by:
1. STUDYING the reality, theological, historical and practical responses to lessening gun violence;
2. ATTENDING local, state and national candidate forums and asking candidates their positions on gun violence prevention;
3. ADVOCATING Universal Background Checks for all gun sales including private sellers, and a Red Flag Law (Extreme Risk Protective Order) which would temporarily remove a weapon from a person who is a danger to themselves or others;
4. UTILIZING the resourcs of the SPAS-ENGAGE Work Group on Gun Violence Prevention and Protect Minnesota.

When the writers, when prophets, when Jesus, when Paul call for love, peace and justice, they expressed concern and responsibility for the common good. Engaging the public, engaging the political process, is faith-filled engagement for the common good in obedience to the Biblical witness. The time is right. The time is now.

Blessings and Peace!
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes