JUNE 9-12: CLOSE TO 100 RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS ACROSS NEW YORK STATE TO PARTICIPATE IN GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS FAITH WEEKEND

Close to 100 faith leaders across New York are set to participate in Gun Violence Awareness Month by spreading awareness on the issue and honoring those whose lives have been impacted by gun violence  

Buffalo, and New York, NY – In honor of Gun Violence Awareness Month, close to 100 religious leaders across New York State will participate in ‘Faith Weekend,’ spreading awareness to gun violence and honoring the individuals and families whose lives have been impacted. Throughout the weekend, faith leaders will hold services that include moments of silence, group prayer, and sermons dedicated to the devastating impact of gun violence. Faith institutions play a key role in providing information, resources, and support to members on issues affecting their congregants. Acknowledging the grieving process and role of faith leaders over the course of a dedicated weekend creates a space for communities to process, mourn, and find strength in the days and months ahead.

A national livestream service dedicated to gun violence awareness from Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Center of Hope International, on Sunday, June 12th at 9:00AM will also be available for online viewing at www.gunviolenceawarenessmonthny.com, further echoing the messages of hope and peace.

Over the previous weekend of June 4th, in coordination with Gun Violence Awareness Day, additional religious institutions also held numerous services dedicated to gun violence awareness, with many congregants wearing orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month. The services of the previous weekend highlight the critical role of faith-based institutions in helping to heal communities across New York State. 

Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo: “Buffalo continues to mourn following the mass shooting at TOPS.  Our communities have been forever impacted, and will continue to feel the pain of this for years to come. Our faith leaders play a pivotal role in the healing process, allowing families to have a safe space to come together, grieve, and support one another. Faith Weekend gives us a moment to pause and acknowledge the devastating loss we in Buffalo have experienced, as so many other communities, sadly, have and continue to experience as well.”

Mayor Ben Walsh, Syracuse: “Syracuse joins communities around the country, especially our neighbors in Buffalo, in grieving and prayer following too many senseless mass shootings. Faith Weekend encourages us all to come together and support one another in this time of mourning and healing,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “Our faith-based institutions play a pivotal role in the healing process, and I am grateful to our many faith leaders in Syracuse and beyond for the part they play in mending communities in times of need.” 

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Center of Hope International: “From Buffalo to Queens, gun violence touches communities across New York and the nation. Our greatest strength lies in connecting with one another through prayer, reflection, and service. Honoring and remembering those lost to gun violence is merely the first step to healing our communities. I look forward to joining faith leaders across denominations and the state of New York to echo this message of peace.”

Reverend Paul J. Thomas, Pastor of Bethel AME Church: “At Bethel AME, we have grieved alongside our members since the shooting at TOPS. Our community has been devastated by gun violence. Part of the church’s role within the community is to pray for and honor the people we have lost, while supporting the families who are still with us during this incredibly painful time. We will continue to pray for, support, and be a resource to our families throughout this month and beyond.” 

Pastor Gilford Monrose, Faith Advisor/Executive Director, Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, Office of the Mayor of New York City: “Faith plays an important role to heal our communities and, in our work, to end gun violence. We will turn our prayers into action as we advocate, deliver sermons, offer services to victims and push for changes in our laws to create a safer society.  We are blessed to join houses of worship in New York City and State for Gun Violence Awareness Faith Weekend”

Reverend Carl Washington, New Mount Zion Baptist Church: “The Empire Baptist Missionary Churches stands in solidarity with survivors, victims, and advocates during Gun Violence Awareness Month. This Sunday, we will dedicate a sermon to those who have tragically lost their life to gun violence. It is time for us to put an end to this epidemic and unite.” Reverend Washington is the president of Empire Baptist Missionary Convention.”

Reverend Al Cockfield, God’s Battalion of Prayer: “Gun Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for New Yorkers to acknowledge the lives lost by the senseless acts of gun violence and organize to prevent and protect lives. God’s Battalion Of Prayer Church in East Flatbush stand in solidarity with the survivors and victims of gun violence and this Sunday we will be honoring victims in our worship service!”

K. Bain, Founder of Community Capacity Development: “Institutions such as churches, synagogues and mosques aren’t safe, and there’s evidence to that point. Increasing awareness in these spaces, security training, and heightened consciousness is key. The shooter in Buffalo could have gone to a faith-based institution just as easily, because that is where black and brown communities come together. There’s a history of attacks in places of worship via domestic terrorism, and so awareness for prevention is the key to safety in our religious spaces.”

Faith Weekend is part of a broader campaign by Gun Violence Awareness Month and other gun violence prevention organizations. This effort was kicked off by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Human Justice Leader K. Bain, and Anti-Gun Violence Advocate Linda Beigel Schulman and included Mayors from Rochester, Albany, Yonkers, Dunkirk, Mount Vernon, and Niagara Falls with the goal of deepening the commitment and accountability in New York–and nationwide–on the widespread issue of gun violence. 

The effort continues to bring together and connect community leaders as the growing coalition seeks to address the various roots of gun violence, raise awareness of the issue, amplify best practices, and engage in active conversation with all impacted communities. This year’s Gun Violence Awareness Month is of particular significance following recent high-profile shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, Laguna Woods, and New York City.

A list of participating churches and congregations can be found here.