Clergy to hold liturgy against gun violence in US capital

Episcopal dioceses from around the United States  will gather on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Monday to raise attention for gun violence prevention.

To mark the beginning of Holy Week, bishops from Connecticut, Maryland Virginia, Newark and Washington D.C. are holding a witness to the public Stations of the Cross.

The event, which begins March 25, will congregate in the morning near the St. John's Episcopal Church by Lafayette Square before moving to the National Mall.

The public liturgy of clergy and worshippers will march from the White House to the Capitol Rotunda before gathering for prepared remarks from religious and public leaders near the Library of Congress.

"We are going to share the church's response to gun violence," the Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, told Ecumenical News. 

Hall, who says he expects several hundred people to gather for the liturgy, believes that both community faith and public leadership are needed to curb gun violence in the country.

He participated in last weekend's Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, hosted at the Washington National Cathedral. He presided over Saturday's call for action national panel while acknowledging change is no easy task.

"We talked about legislative solutions that have come from the administration," Hall said.

He believes that the ecumenical effort should pursue background checks and also stricter penalties for gun trafficking. Also, the church can play a larger role in examining the impact of cultural forces on early gun violence.

Bishops, priests and deacons have been asked to wear cassocks or other clerical attires while worshippers will carry a wooden cross for the upcoming Stations of the Cross.

During the event they will stop in front of memorials, government buildings and other sites to offer prayer for the ending of violence and the economic conditions that help compound it.

"The church is called to comfort those who mourn, but if we do not also urge our lawmakers to take steps to reduce the number of people who are shot to death each year, our words of comfort ring hollow," Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington, said in a press release.

The statement also urged worshippers to use the march to challenge violence in the way that Christ did would he carried the cross.

The Stations of the Cross is a ceremony that commemorates the ordeal of Jesus from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate through his crucifixion and burial.

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