“Not one more! We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes,” reads the description for Louisville’s “March for Our Lives.”
On Saturday, March 24, Americans will gather in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the country to join this student-led movement. Here in Louisville, Highland Baptist will join Indivisible KY, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, and other allies to march for greater awareness and change to our gun laws. The students proclaim, “We cannot wait for someone else to stop the epidemic of mass shootings.” As people of faith, we value life and the intrinsic goodness in each of us as a child of this Divine. This opportunity invites us to embody this truth in a peaceful, collective, and public manner.
The Parents for Progress Bible Study, Anti-Racism Team, Mission and Justice Ministry Group, the Youth and Families Ministry Group, and ministry staff invite you to put on your Highland Baptist t-shirt as we join our neighbors for this important event.
Highland gives thanks for the various parts of social justice work, knowing that not all are called to this form of public witness. And yet, if you have never marched or participated in a public event like this before now, we encourage you to join us. Those who planned the march welcome kids, teachers, and each of us who long for safety in our schools and places of worship.
We will gather at 11:30 a.m. in the Youth Commons to make signs and banners on the morning of the march. Come with some poster board and cash for a lunch order from Jimmy Johns. Markers will be provided. At 1:00 p.m., we will migrate to the starting spot. We welcome others to meet us there—look for the Highland t-shirts.
The march begins at 574 West Jefferson Street at 1:30 p.m. (b/w 5th and 6th Streets). The route moves through downtown and culminates with a rally at Metro Hall. You can follow the activity on social media.
Stronger Together: Supporting Our Youth by Perry Dixon
On Wednesday morning, March 18, Lauren and I traveled to a local high school to support one of our youth, Paxton, as she led a walkout in protest of gun violence as part of the national movement taking place. We were not allowed in because, we were told, the students’ safety was most important. As clergy, we responded politely and saved all the funny comments for the car ride back. But, though disappointed we could not physically show up, we also were not worried, because we believe, fully, in Paxton.
Paxton helped plan and lead a walk out for hundreds of students at her high school, but she was not the only one among us who felt led to public action. Ben and Cooper participated at their school, where the walkout was met with massive support from students and faculty. Lula Mae participated at her school, where administration supported students making their voices known. Ryan, though, ran into an Oldham County school system that did not support student protests against gun violence—he and others knew that their participation might bring disciplinary consequences. Tate, Livia, Meredith, Elise, Rachel and many others from our group participated in a supportive environment at their school (where we have lots of youth!), as well.
From 6th through 12th grade, in schools all across Jefferson County and Oldham County, Highland Baptist Youth answered the call to use their voice to make a difference in their schools, in their city, and in their country. They have done so because they have supportive families, supportive friends and mentors, and also because at Highland, they have found that their individual callings and consciences are where God is at work, too.
History will not be kind to administrations and politicians who seek to control or ignore the voices of our youth. If change will come, our country will be led by our youth, in spite of our moral failures as a nation. At Highland, our work is not only to pray for our youth, as the Eastern High School staff advised we do, though we certainly do that. It is to equip and empower each youth to answer God’s call in their own way, to support them as they participate in God’s action, and to walk alongside them, or perhaps behind them, as they work to bring about new life here and now. As adults, we must show up for them whenever we are called and allow for the possibility that they might have answers that we do not.
On Wednesday night, our series Stronger Together will focus on Gun Violence (though we are exploring LGBTQ rights, Women’s Equality, Immigration, and Racism in the series) in preparation for that Saturday. On Saturday, March 24, all of Highland’s cloud of witnesses are invited to participate in the March for Our Lives here in Louisville, the local march that is part of the national day of action organized by the students of Stoneman Douglas High School. As millions march around the country and thousands gather in Washington, DC, we will meet at Highland to make signs and banners at 11:30 a.m., before going to participate in the march downtown from 1:30 until 4:30 p.m.
May we each hear God’s call to love and support our youth in every way possible, especially now as they seek to lead us.