In the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, and feeling a deep sense of urgency, two ministers at the First Congregational Church of Cheshire wanted to act. Rev. Dr. James Campbell and Rev. Alison McCaffrey began discussing how the church could respond to such a horrific act.
McCaffrey and Campbell looked at possibilities for getting involved in gun violence prevention efforts; for instance, a gun buy-back program. However, as it happened, another church, St. Peter’s Episcopal, had already begun to work on sponsoring a gun violence prevention program. So the local churches teamed up.
This summer, St. Peter’s parishioner and Boulder Knoll Community Farm co-President Marjorie Chapman, along with Boulder Knoll’s Hap Jordan, went to New Haven for a public event designed to raise awareness about gun violence in Connecticut.
There they were introduced to Swords to Plowshares Northeast.
“It was then that Marj and I began to explore the possibility of bringing this group to the farm and educating others in our community about this creative way to address the problem of so many guns in circulation,” said Jordan.
Swords to Plowshares was co-founded by the Right Reverend James E. Curry and retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Church of Connecticut. The organization aims to build coalitions of community groups to help reduce gun violence.
According to the group’s website, “The strategy we apply to this problem is to convert weapons of death into tools of life, and then use those tools for the betterment of the community.
“[T]he program has a front end where we partner with police departments and are then provided with weapons that are turned in during their gun buyback days.”
A free demonstration by Swords to Plowshares Northeast on how to transform surrendered guns into garden tools will take place on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 3 p.m., at Boulder Knoll Community Farm, 875 Boulder Rd.
Rev. Curry will serve as the blacksmith, using a forge and anvil to demonstrate how to transform gun parts into gardening tools. Curry says his forge is “just one strategy, one prong in a multi-pronged approach to changing the attitude toward gun violence in our community.”
According to GunViolenceArchive.org, just this year, the United States experienced 447 mass shootings, with 29,240-gun violence deaths (homicide, suicide and unintentional). Additionally, a federal report released from the National Center for Education Statistics listed 93 school shootings in 2020-21.
There were seven school shootings in May 2022 alone. The Uvalde attack took the lives of 21 people, 19 of them elementary school children.
The Swords to Plowshares Northeast demonstration is being sponsored by Friends of Boulder Knoll, First Congregational Church, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church. All are welcome to attend.
The Cheshire Police Department will have a presence at the event, along with representatives from the group Connecticut Against Gun Violence.
For more information, contact Marjorie Chapman at email@example.com.