As the state legislature prepares to convene, local clergy and The Metropolitan Organization on Sunday held a gun control vigil at Trinity United Methodist Church. Those present spoke passionately about gun safety policies.
“Despite the fact that we’re supposed to be a first-world country, a civilized nation, a nation of laws, we continue to see the scourge of gun violence in the United States,” said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo....
David Lyon, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, read an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle in January of 2013. After every mass shooting in the years since, he has referred to the article and says he could still write it word for word. He eventually published a version for his congregation with blanks instead of the words “Sandy Hook” so that members could fill in the name of the latest disaster.
“Our purpose here is to stop filling in the blanks and change the narrative,” Lyon said.
For the Rev. Ed Jones, the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, the urgency of the vigil that he had been planning for months had been underscored by personal tragedy that very week.
A family member, 17-year-old Drew Conley, had been shot and killed the Monday before.
[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle]
Houstonians Recall Sandy Hook Victims and Push for Gun Law Changes, Houston Chronicle
Legislators on Quest to reform Gun Laws, Houston Chronicle
One day before Thanksgiving, the Houston Chronicle published a letter submitted by TMO clergy Rabbi David Lyon, Rev. Albert Zanetta and Rev. Simón Bautista.
This past week, many of us sat down with our extended families at Thanksgiving celebrations. As faith leaders, we teach that family is sacred. We are moved to keep families together, so they may thrive together.
The Trump administration has proposed a policy that would force immigrant families to make an impossible choice between caring for their children, parents and grandparents and keeping their family together in the United States. The proposed changes to the 100-year-old “public charge” regulation will make it more difficult for an immigrant to become a legal permanent resident or obtain a visa to visit the United States if he is not wealthy, have a preexisting health condition, or participate in programs that support health, nutrition and housing stability....
Don't Penalize Children for Being Poor, Especially After Harvey, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
TMO leaders knocked on hundreds of doors and contacted thousands of voters by phone through organized Get Out The Vote walks and phone banks around their churches in Houston, Cypress, and Pasadena. While 63% more people voted in Texas this year, targeted precincts far outperformed the statewide average. In one targeted Cypress precinct, leaders called hundreds of voters and voter turnout increased by 95.65%. In another targeted precinct, in Pasadena, leaders called hundreds of voters and turnout increased by 117.65%!
700+ Leaders Participate in TMO Accountability Sessions at St. Leo the Great Catholic, Congregation Beth Israel, and St. Pius V Catholic
In advance of the fall midterm elections, TMO leaders gathered and publicly challenged candidates running for office to, if elected, commit to working with them on immigration, job training, expansion of health care, flooding mitigation and Harvey Rebuilding, public education, college debt, and payday lending. Participating candidates publicly stated their stance on these issues and made commitments to TMO leaders to support and/or craft policy in these areas.
Candidates challenged included U.S. Rep. District 29 Phillip Aronoff (R) and Sylvia Garcia (D), Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2 Adrian Garcia (D), Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (R) and Lina Hidalgo (D); Texas Senate District 17 Rita Lucido (D), House District 133 Marty Schexnayder (D), House District 135 Jon Rosenthal (D), and House District 144 Mary Ann Perez (D).
After the assemblies, leaders organized neighborhood walks and phone banks through which they knocked on hundreds of doors in targeted districts and contacted thousands of voters by phone.
In response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh, Houston religious and TMO leaders stood together in solidarity in support of the Jewish community at a Congregation Beth Israel event.
[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan / Houston Chronicle]
Houston Interfaith Leaders Urge to Fight Hate with Love and Voting, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Fulfilling a commitment made to TMO earlier this year, Houston Police Chief (and incoming president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association) Art Acevedo publicly urged American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, to examine its safety practices and standards.
The joint letter, signed also by Rabbi David Lyon, Senior of Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel and leader with TMO, and Montgomery Police Chief (and outgoing MCCA president), J. Thomas Manger, was accompanied with a supportive statement by the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. Do Not Stand Idly By is a national IAF campaign made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote the production and use of smart guns.
[Photo Credit: Bloomberg Business]
Police Chiefs, Clergy to Gunmaker: Cut Shootings by Making Guns Safer, Houston Chronicle
Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer, Bloomberg Business
TMO leaders held seven civic academies across Harris County to educate voters about the upcoming County Bond election. Guests including Bayou City Initiative’s Jim Blackburn, Harris County Flood District Representatives, and Commissioner Ellis’ staff joined the meetings. TMO leaders organized follow up phone banks to reach thousands of voters during the early voting period.
Don’t forget to vote August 25, 2018!!
Catch TMO leaders at events they organized to bring repair services and resources to congregations across the city in this video put together by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
Click video link here to see leaders in action at minutes: 6:05, 6:06, 6:51, 6:53, 6:54, 6:55, 10:36, and 10:56!
Great work TMO and partner agencies!
At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety.
The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy. Rabbi Mosbacher described the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign as a market-based approach to entice gun manufacturers to develop safe(r) gun technologies that make it more difficult for stolen guns to be used and / or sold on the black market. Cortes described the importance of building lasting power through relationships and community organizing. Chief Acevedo expressed his support for the strategy, and agreed to sign on.
Other institutions in attendance included:
Temple Emanu El, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Congregation Brith Shalom, Congregation Shma-Koleina, Jewish Living and Learning, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, St. Andrews United Methodist, eMgage, St. James Episcopal, Hope Episcopal, Our Mother of Mercy, Catholic Charities, St. Mary Magdalene, Assumption Catholic, First Metropolitan, Trinity United Methodist, St. Andrews Episcopal, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Stephen's Episcopal, Chapelwood United Methodist, Holy Family, All Saints Catholic, Presbytery of New Covenant, Memorial Drive United Methodist, St. Anne de Beaupre, and Dallas Area Interfaith.
Houston Might Join Campaign for Gun Safety Focusing on Manufacturer, Houston Public Media
Over 100 TMO leaders assembled to share stories on immigration, public education, Harvey recovery, and gun safety and discuss progress on their efforts. Leaders made public commitments to sign up voters around their 2018 issues agenda.