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Response to Parkland: Trinity UMC marches on the Florida State Capitol

Response to Parkland: Trinity UMC marches on the Florida State Capitol

Missions and Outreach
About two blocks from the church, Trinity UMC marchers join students from Florida State University.

TALLAHASSEE — Like most of America, our members were in shock as yet another example of senseless gun violence splashed across our social media on Valentine’s Day.

There were so many questions. How could this happen again? Why are we continuing with policies that obviously are not working? If most of us agree that this is unacceptable, how can it keep happening? What can we do to stop it?

Two days after the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we read in the weekly email of our Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Wayne Wiatt, “A Word From Wayne,” these wise words from his wife, Ramona:

I am not a theologian. I am a mom, grandmamma, sister, wife.

​Murder, violence and abuse have permeated so many layers of our culture and we do not seem to notice anymore.

Music, language, and movies speak messages of hate, hurt and death, and we do not seem to notice anymore. TV, commercials, and gaming speak messages of hate, hurt, and death, and we do not seem to notice anymore.

Human trafficking, child abuse, and sexual exploitation speak messages of hate, hurt and death and we do not seem to notice anymore.

It runs deep in our society. Do we see it? Do we turn the other way? Do we ignore it? Are we really willing to make a change?

Trinity members march from the church to the Florida State Capitol.

The answer must be a resounding "yes," we are willing!

So, with inspiration from the Florida Conference Bishop, Ken Carter, Trinity decided to stop with the handwringing and philosophical discussions and get busy and do something. That’s what we do best.

Dr. Wiatt suggested that we use one of Bishop Carter’s ideas and create writing stations throughout the church so that members could write a letter to their elected governmental representative. We also decided to send out an email blast and invite our members to be a force for change and to walk with us to the Capitol, where we could be a physical presence, as well as a spiritual one. And that is exactly what we did.

Twenty-six of us walked the three blocks to the Old Capitol building, along with over 5,000 other concerned citizens, and stood in solidarity with these brave students who came to Tallahassee seeking assurances from their elected state government. In our group, there was a family represented by three generations, which included Rev. John Quinton, the pastor of Sopchoppy UMC and Ochlockonee Bay UMC, his son, Dr. Nick Quinton, who is our Director of Discipleship and Adult Ministries, and Nick’s son, John Robert.

Fighting emotion, Nick explained his reasoning for bringing his kindergartner: “This guy is why I’m marching; we cannot let this continue.”

Did we change the world by walking to the Capitol? Obviously not. There is still so much to do. But, seeing those high school students, who had lost so much, and yet, were willing to speak of their experience in seeking change, has given new hope that our future can be brighter than our past.