The Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia

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The Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia Mourns with Newtown Connecticut and Calls for Action

The news of the horrific tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut has filled our hearts with shock and profound sadness. We are religious leaders of many faith traditions, and we hold in common the sanctity of human life proclaimed by God. We believe violence between individuals is an offense against God and a rejection of God’s will. We are dismayed by the violence that devastates so many individuals, families, and neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond. Many of our religious and civic institutions have made powerful statements in the past decrying the level of gun violence and calling for legislative and cultural changes to reduce it. Yet our nation continues to suffer from unacceptable levels of gun violence. Becoming desensitized to the intolerable numbers injured and killed regularly by illegally owned guns is a spiritual problem. Even one is too many. It is time to act. We call on houses of worship, schools, and other organizations to recognize and become Zones of Peace, carrying out projects designed to reduce the root causes of violence in their own neighborhoods (, Zones of Peace). We call on all of our elected officials to act now to work to end the senseless violence that permeates our society. We invite people to join us, the members of the Religious Leaders Council, in pledging to be an instrument of God’s peace, to make their homes and neighborhoods zones of peace, free from fear, filled with respect, and marked by deeds of kindness. We solemnly commit to these undertakings in the name of the One we worship, and pledge ourselves to prayer and action to protect the lives of all. December 18, 2012

The Religious Leaders Council is administered by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia Contact: Rev. Nicole Diroff, [email protected], 215-222-1012 3723 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19104,

Co-Conveners: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - Archdiocese of Philadelphia Bishop Claire Schenot Burkat - Southeastern PA Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Imam Anwar Muhaimin - Quba Masjid Rabbi David Straus - Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phila. Members: Bishop Charles Bennison - Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Reverend Luis A. Cortés, Jr. - Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell - Delaware Valley Association of Reform Rabbis Bijan Etemad, M.D. - Philadelphia Baha’i Community Rabbi Albert E. Gabbai - Congregation Mikveh Israel Rabbi Elisa Goldberg - Philadelphia Board of Rabbis Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. - Philadelphia Leadership Foundation Rev. Terrence D. Griffth - Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity Rabbi Richard Hirsh - Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Bishop Peter Hwang - Council of Korean Churches of Greater Philadelphia Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram- African Methodist Episcopal Church Rabbi Alan Iser - Rabbinical Assembly, Philadelphia Region Bishop Peggy Johnson - Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, The United Methodist Church Lt Colonel Renee P. Lance - Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Arthur M. Larrabee - Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Reverend Steven B. Lawrence - Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia Imam Muhammad Abdur-Razzaq Miller - Mosque of Shaikh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Father Emmanuel Pratsinakis - Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid - Majlis Ash-Shura of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley Rev. Dr. Lucy Rupe - Presbytery of Philadelphia, Presbyterian Church USA Imam Mohamed Shehata - Al-Aqsa Islamic Society Elder Robert B. Smith - The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints Archbishop Stefan Soroka - Archeparchy of Philadelphia Rev. Judith Youngman - PA Southeast Conference, United Church of Christ In Formation

The Religious Leaders Council is administered by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia Contact: Rev. Nicole Diroff, [email protected], 215-222-1012 3723 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19104,