PHOENIX, AZ - March 22, 2018
“It is easier for me to get a gun than to get a job or birth control.” This line is from a Facebook post by high school student Maya in Albuquerque that put into motion a trip with 11 other youth and seven adults from her church and four other churches in the Southwest Conference United Church of Christ.
"Maya's words were an invitation for Maya and her peers to exercise their power to create a safe world through the agency of the Southwest Conference," said the Rev. Bill Lyons, conference minister. "We shared Maya's wisdom on our conference Facebook page. And we sent out the invitation for Southwest Conference high schoolers to join the March for Our Lives in Washington. This trip is Christian formation, a justice witness, and a civic engagement all in one."
Ranging in age from 13 to 18, from churches in Arizona and New Mexico, these youth plan to join others from the UCC during the march on Saturday. In addition, they hope to lobby their states' Congressional delegations on Friday, with the support of staff from the UCC Washington office.
This delegation is made up of youth and adults from First Congregational UCC Albuquerque, NM; The Good Shepherd UCC in Sahuarita, AZ; Desert Palm UCC in Tempe, AZ; Black Mountain UCC in Scottsdale, AZ; and Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix, AZ.
On Friday night our group will use the Zoom platform to join a gathering of UCC and UUA youth and adults. The event in Phoenix happens at Encanto Community UCC, Rev. Dr. Gloria Fox, Pastor. They plan to leave the Washington Seminar Center at about 9:30 pm and walk to the national mall where the lighted capitol and monuments will provide backdrops for our online experience. Conference Minister Bill Lyons will make a brief statement to the gathering in Phoenix via the technology.
On Saturday they will join the other UCCers at the Washington Office, and then proceed to the March. They will be live-streaming this event from the conference Facebook page (we hope) and from private Facebook accounts.
Our delegation is staying over Saturday night and will have time for everyone to reflect on their experience and to plan ways to take this back to their churches, schools, and wider communities. We want to keep the momentum moving forward. The group will also be invited to share at our annual meeting on April 20 at the evening banquet.
Sandy Sorenson (Director of the United Church of Christ Washington Office) has been asked to convene all UCC youth to gather in one place. "We can't let every tragedy touch us deeply and move on,” she said. “We have to be part of the movement for change on this – sensible gun reform legislation – first and foremost. We also know young people need and want to see relevance in their church. They want to bring change. This says in a very concrete way, 'yes we get it, and we can be there with you. You can do this through your church.' The church can be the vehicle for the change they want to see in world."