This post was updated on December 18.
Church leaders in the Martha’s Vineyard Island Clergy Association marched in silence through the snow Thursday morning to stand against the NRA and gun violence on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. “Enough is enough,” the Rev. Bill Clark of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard, said. “It’s time for change.”
Determined to not let the snow obscure their mission, about 20 religious leaders met at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven, huddled under the pavilion, then began their march down Main Street. With pizza box signs and clerical robes, they made their icy trek to Five Corners.
The march was organized in association with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Va., who marched in front of NRA headquarters in Fairfax today. This was the Virginia church’s first national interfaith worship event. The Island Clergy Association was invited to join the march in Fairfax, but instead of making the long trip to Virginia, took this opportunity to organize its own mini march in support of the cause.
At Five Corners, marchers gathered in a circle, and began with a prayer. Interspersed with moments of silence, songs, and prayers, they took turns reading the 26 names of the Sandy Hook victims, including the shooter and his mother.
The Island Clergy coordinated the march and prayer timing with the schedule in Virginia, to remain a unified front, though from afar.
Rev. Sharon Eckhardt, a retired lutheran pastor living in Vineyard Haven, said “The issue is very basic: how do we respect [Second Amendment] rights, while also having public safety secure.”
Closing out with “Amazing Grace” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” the Rev. Eckhardt said lyrics of those songs embody their message perfectly: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Although this march marked the Island Clergy’s first gathering dealing with gun violence, they’ve come together on multiple other occasions, standing up for causes such as homelessness and hunger, according to organizers.