On June 2, people across the country will wear orange as a sign of their commitment to diminishing the scourge of gun violence that besets the United States. The movement was born in mourning on the south side of Chicago, and Bishop Jeffrey Lee is asking members of the diocese to give it their support.
“Fifteen-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot to death in our city just a week after marching in President Obama’s second inaugural parade,” Lee said. “Her friends decided to wear orange, the color that hunters wear to keep themselves safe, in her memory. We owe it to Hadiya and the young people who launched this movement to take whatever steps we can to help protect our fellow citizens from gun violence. Wearing orange on June 2, which would have been Hadiya’s 19th birthday, is one such step.”
The commemoration that began among Pendleton’s friends was transformed last year by a number of gun violence prevention groups into the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group that includes Lee and some 60 Episcopal bishops, is a partner in this year’s events.
Lee and other members of Bishops United are asking Episcopalians and others to:
- Share material such as this post on Facebook and this tweet on Twitter
- Have their picture taken in orange garb on June 2 and posted on social media using the hashtags #WearOrange and #Episcopal
- Follow Bishops United Against Gun Violence on Facebook:Episcopalians Against Gun Violence and Twitter: The Cross Lobby.
Member of the clergy are invited to consider joining the movement to wear an orange stole on Sunday, June 5.
Bishops United also urges Episcopalians to work for common sense solutions to gun violence including: background checks on all gun purchases, handgun purchaser licensing, the passage of a clear, effective statute making gun trafficking a federal crime and the development of smart gun technology.
The diocese’s efforts against gun violence include a summer jobs program now entering its third year. Funding is available to churches or non-profits who can provide an 8-10 week job for a young person (16-19 years old) from a neighborhood with a high risk of gun violence. (Please contact the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville Burrows, the diocese’s director of networking.)
The Wear Orange campaign will be especially visible in Chicago. Organizers are finalizing details for the second annual Party of Peace in one of the city’s parks on June 2 and the city’s iconic downtown buildings will be lit in orange during the first week of June.
“This is going to be a high-visibility event,” Lee said, “and it is my hope that it will galvanize people to become involved with the organizations that work to save people from gun violence on the other 364 days of the year.”