WASHINGTON, D.C — Washington National Cathedral will bless District of Columbia first responders the afternoon of Thursday, March 13, as part of a week of events that include the national Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend in March organized by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, of which the Cathedral’s Dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, is currently chairman.Dove Branch clip art

“For many Americans concerned about curbing the epidemic of gun violence, we seem to be in a wilderness right now,” said Dean Hall. “A year ago Congress was considering consensual, common sense regulations on assault weapons, ammunition magazines, background checks, and stiff penalties for gun trafficking. A year later, the gun lobby has successfully stymied action at the federal level. But there are oases of hope in the midst of this wilderness: states and cities are taking local action where our national leaders have not been able to.”

Dean Hall continued, “This year’s Sabbath will attend to both our feelings of frustration and these glimmers of hope. We will use these days to learn from the great local successes and to regroup for national action. We will reach out our hands in blessing those who work for public safety and stand with those who have lost family members to gun violence. We invite all people of good will to join us in this effort.”

What: Interfaith blessing of D.C. first responders and panel discussion on gun control

District of Columbia first responders including police, fire fighters, and EMTs and ER staff
The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia
Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
Pastor Michael McBride of the PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing
Dr. Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research
The Rev. Dr. Wallace Charles Smith, Pastor of Shiloh Baptist
The Rev. Don Isaac of the East of the River Clergy/Police Community Partnership
Dr. Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld executive vice president, the Rabbinical Assembly
Vinny DeMarco, of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence

Where: Washington National Cathedral, West Lawn, 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

When: Thursday, March 13, 2014
4:00 p.m. Press avail and blessing of first responders
4:45 p.m. Panel discussion and reception
6:30 p.m. Mobilizing webcast focused on the role of the faith community and available tools

The Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, which will be held at hundreds of faith congregations across the country, will take place from March 13-16 starting with a blessing of District of Columbia first responders at National Cathedral on March 13. Families and victims of gun violence are invited to attend, where the names of those killed in the District in 2013 will be creatively displayed in memoriam across the Cathedral’s west lawn.

This event will be followed by a panel discussion on the role of faith in violence prevention and positive action on behalf of effective gun control laws that will be live-streamed to congregations participating in the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend. Dean Hall will preach that weekend calling on people of faith to walk through this legislative wilderness and continue to work for justice and the safety of our communities.

Earlier in the week Dean Hall will also participate in a press conference on Capitol Hill with families from Newtown, Connecticut, who are participating in the Sandy Hook Ride on Washington, cycling over the four days. On the morning of March 11, the riders will be welcomed by Dean Hall during a final rest stop at National Cathedral immediately prior to the press conference.

Earlier in the week the Cathedral will receive and exhibit the installation work “Meditations on Mourning” by artist S.B. Woods, which features female figures covered in shrouds, as the names of all those killed by gun violence are projected over them. The artwork takes up a 15’x15’ space and evokes the crippling pain felt by loss of life. Woods created the artwork after 9/11 and has subsequently presented it to the Newtown Action Alliance after the school shooting in December 2012. The exhibition runs until April 10.

SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral