The Rev. Catherine Snyder has seen firsthand the pain and hurt felt by individuals and communities because of gun violence.

Snyder wept openly Tuesday after the Committee on Social Justice Issues: The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World unanimously approved a recommendation for the PC(USA) to take a stronger stand against gun violence.

Synder, who helped write the recommendation entitled “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call,” is the Presbyterian campus minister at Virginia Tech University. She consoled students and their families after a distraught student opened fire and killed 32 people in April 2007.

“Why do we so easily accept the unthinkable suffering of gun violence?” Snyder asked the committee. “We are crazy about our guns. Sisters and brothers, the madness must stop. My prayer is that our denomination can lead this nation to its senses.”

The committee also approved support for Presbyterian immigrants. Included in the recommendation is a request that the PC(USA) refrain from holding national meetings at hotels or conference centers in those states where travel by immigrant Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color might subject them to harassment due to legislation similar to the recent Arizona law.    

Other items approved to be sent to the full Assembly:

  • A call for an immediate national moratorium on the death penalty
  • A recommendation to form a committee to study the nature of the church for the 21st century.

A recommendation to approve the study paper, “On Living a Human Life Before God,” as a PC(USA) resource failed by a vote of 1 to 41, with 10 members abstaining. It will be submitted to the General Assembly with comment.