Following shootings, Brooklyn pastor leads national conference on gun violence
For Pastor Gil Monrose, the issue is 'pervasive, part of a day's work'
For many people, the abrupt arrival of civil and social unrest amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recent wave of protests was a striking wakeup call. For Pastor Gilford Monrose and the 67th Precinct Clergy Council (less formally known as “The God Squad”), the breadth of seemingly new challenges, especially in relation to the existing gun violence problem, was simply another day at the office.
“Everything is intertwined. From police action to reform to COVID-19, all of this is intertwined to the violence that we see,” said Pastor Monrose. “People don’t realize that this affects us in different ways and in different communities. I think now we are seeing that played out before our very own eyes. If we have been constantly on the street working with young people, working with different groups being on the ground and then you pull away police support, clergy support, safety net support for 190 days, basically the void that you had that’s holding back the violence, that void is now gone.”
In an ongoing effort to combat gun violence in communities locally and nationally, the 67th Precinct Clergy Council and organizations representing at least seven other communities nationally banded together on July 1 for the first National Gun Violence Prevention Training program for clergy. Held via Zoom, the training drew nearly 200 clergy and lay people from across the country as well as local politicians Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Ushered by Pastor Monrose, the comprehensive, nearly two-hour training detailed three models to address gun violence: The 10 Point Plan, Peace Pop Up model, and Praying with our Feet model used and presented by Pastor Charles Harrison of Indianapolis, Reverend Ciara Walker of Chicago, and Reverend Jeffery Brown of Boston respectively. Each model carefully reviewed the methodology used to address gun violence on a local level, including on-the-street engagement when the violence is most likely to occur, the gathering and dissemination of resources to those most susceptible to violence, and more.
“We don’t do this work because we want to but because we have to; because we’re called to,” said Reverend Delonte Ghloston of the Peace Fellowship Church in Washington D.C. “This is what we’re in it for, we’re in it for our kids, we’re in it for our babies. I live and pastor in the neighborhood that we’re doing this work in. We hear the gunshots at night. I grew up in this city and the tragedy is I just turned 40 years old and the same gunshots that I heard when I was coming up are the same gunshots that [my daughter] is hearing now. So for us, we believe it’s time to stand in the gap.”
With gun violence ticking upward nearly 101 percent since this time last year in Brooklyn alone, the COVID-19 pandemic, and heightened tensions between police and citizens, the members of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council have a difficult path forward to stopping gun violence. But if anyone is cut out for it, it’s them.
“As we’re dealing with a global pandemic and Depression-like economics as well as the issues these communities have dealt with before, we were sure that sadly we would see some of these numbers spike,” said Public Advocate Williams. “It’s not an excuse but just know what we have to get at is addressing the issues that these communities are dealing with. And the people best suited to deal with that are our community groups on the ground and clergy.”
In February, Pastor Monrose spoke at a gathering of Brooklyn clergy to celebrate Black History Month. Read the story here.
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