Mass shootings are a reality in the United States. There were 610 mass shootings in 2020, defined as when four or more people have been shot or killed, not including the shooter.
But these are only a fraction of the nation’s gun violence. The total number of gun-related deaths is a much larger number, around 50,000 each year.
With the assumption that faith cannot be removed from discerning how congregations choose to respond to violence in all forms, Mennonite Central Committee and RAWtools have partnered to create an adult Sunday school curriculum, “FEAR NOT: Creating a plan to respond to active violence.” The curriculum walks congregations through a theological study and process to create an appropriate plan.
“Scripture repeatedly calls God’s people to ‘Fear not,’ ” said Mike Martin, RAWtools director and co-author of the curriculum. “In Isaiah 41 it is followed by, ‘For I am with you.’ ”
The curriculum is an attempt to have congregations wrestle with what it means to be faithful. It also encourages participants to think about how to be “with” their communities — even with those who may feel the need to harm us — as God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are with us.
The first 10 sessions survey experiences and theological motivations for nonviolent responses to violence. The final two build on completed activities and discussions to create the backbone of a plan that can be formalized into a policy regarding safety.
Curriculum writers are eager to engage with congregations. For more information, contact Jes Stoltzfus Buller, peace education coordinator for MCC U.S. at email@example.com or Mike Martin, executive director of RAWtools at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The curriculum can be downloaded at mcc.org/fear-not.
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