While many in our nation, including members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), are struggling with the recent acquittal in the case of Florida v. George Zimmerman, resultant from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, it is important that we remember our faith commitment to pray for those persons directly involved. Irrespective of our opinions regarding the outcome of the case, both families have encountered a significant ordeal over the past year. Neither the Martin nor Zimmerman families will find an easy resolution or closure in the days ahead. Therefore, as people of faith, we must be steadfast in our commitment to pray for their healing.
News reports are informing us that protests, legal procedures, and other responses to the verdict are already beginning. As people who believe in a “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), it is important that we demonstrate a commitment to peaceful means of displaying our reactions in this case. We remain witnesses to the unfinished work of the Kingdom of God and our willingness to model the faith is important in these times.
We encourage all members and local churches of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to declare a commitment to end gun violence in our local communities. As a church, our General Assembly has made this commitment to ending the pain caused by gun violence in this country through a 2010 statement entitled Gun Violence and Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call. This document provides numerous ways that local congregations, communities, and individuals can become involved in challenging our national culture of violence and reducing the more than 30,000 gun deaths by which our nation is traumatized each year.
Jesus reminds us that “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Peace is not a passive response to times of human trial and pain. Peace is generated by our willingness to trust God while actively engaging in the difficult struggles of human life. Today, we place our faith in Jesus Christ while trusting that the Holy Spirit guides our path toward a world free of fear and violence.
Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency