Contact: Jim Naughton



Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence event takes on new urgency after Charleston shootings

SALT LAKE CITY, June 23, 2015—Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops, will sponsor a prayerful procession through the streets of Salt Lake City on Sunday June 28 at 7:15 a.m. At the gathering, to which all are invited, bishops and other speakers will urge people of faith to seek common ground in efforts to curtail gun violence.

The event—Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence—will begin outside the Salt Palace Convention Center on the northwest corner of West Temple and 200 South, and follow a half-mile route to Pioneer Park before returning to the Salt Palace, said Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark, a co-convener of Bishops United.

The bishops planned their gathering months before the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston last week, but the event takes on a new urgency in the wake of those murders, Beckwith said.

The procession is being held in conjunction with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which begins today at the Salt Palace. The convention meets every three years and is expected to bring as many as 10,000 Episcopalians to the city before it concludes on July 3.

The service will last roughly one hour and will include opening prayers, drumming and singing en route, a brief presentation in the park and concluding prayers outside the Salt Palace.

Speakers will include Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah, who survived a gunshot wound as a young man, Deacon Gayle Fisher-Stewart, who served for more than 20 years on the police force in Washington, D. C. and Bishop Ed Konieczny of Oklahoma, who was previously a police officer in southern California.

Bishops United formed after mass shootings at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

The group supports:

  • Expanding the federal background checks system to cover gun shows, internet and commercial sales
  • Making gun trafficking a federal crime
  • Encouraging the development of “smart gun” technology to reduce accidental shootings—especially among children
  • Requiring that guns be stored safely
  • Improving access to mental healthcare for all Americans.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is an ad hoc group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the level of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives.