Watch the news any evening and usually you will hear one or more stories of gun violence that snatch promising young lives from our midst.
Increasing the practical and prophetic knowledge of clergy in order to change the culture of gun violence is the goal of a day-long Saturday, April 19 conference called “Renewing the Village: Keeping Faith with the Youth in Our City.”
Keynoter for the program that runs 8:30 am to 4 pm at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) is Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, the 10th president of Morehouse College. Dr. Franklin previously served at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University as presidential distinguished professor of social ethics. In the office of Provost at Emory, he led the university’s strategic theme focused on “Confronting the Human Condition.” A frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Franklin has built a national platform on social ethics and community values.
“We’re deeply concerned about the wave of gun violence, particularly in Philadelphia, but also elsewhere,” explains the Rev. Dr. Katie Day, a Presbyterian pastor who serves as Charles Schieren Professor for Church and Society and director of the Urban Concentration at LTSP. She is a key planner for the day. “We want to support congregations to be realistically and effectively involved in addressing both the causes and effects of gun violence.”
Other goals of the conference are to bring clergy together “with those currently engaged in programming for at risk youth to introduce clergy to needed skill sets in developing programs such as job skills training, economic development/job creation, re-entry from prison, conflict resolution, responsible parenting, and anger and stress management,” Day says. The day will make networking possible among those addressing the crisis of gun-related violence to encourage partnerships and strategic development to address youth violence. Educating seminarians and considering public policy initiatives are also key for the day.
The program will feature not only Franklin’s pivotal remarks, but also two sessions of workshops focusing on the topics of “How Do We Respond to the Crisis of Violence Now?” “Transitional Support” – moving individuals toward wholeness, “Social Service” – how can churches prevent recurring violence? “Justice and Advocacy” – changing the systems that contribute toward violence; and “Community Transformation.” Workshop providers are the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the Youth Art Spirituality Project, Northwest Victims Services, Arts & Spirituality, Philadelphia Safe & Sound, CeaseFirePA Parents United for for Public Education, Reconstruction Alumni Ex-Offenders Association, the Germantown Clergy Initiative, the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project, Amachi and the Teens United Performing Arts Project.
Co-sponsors for the program are the seminary, First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, Reconstruction Alumni Ex-Offenders Association (related to Graterford Prison), and the Commission on Human Relations of the City of Philadelphia.
The event is underwritten in part by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. Cost for the conference, including lunch, is $50. You can register on line with a credit card at www.Ltsp.edu/village. Or, contact Carrie Schwab to register at 215-248-7382.