Many CST students, alumni/ae, faculty, and staff took to the streets on Saturday, March 24 joining in the National March for Our Lives led by our nation’s youth as they call for an end to gun violence and the enactment of sensible gun laws. Some took the stage as speakers in major cities, others organized their communities to make signs and march together, while others quietly put their faith in action through the ministry of presence – all creating a difference for the world we live in. When asked why they marched, here’s what a few of them had to say…

The Reverend Susan Russell (M.Div., ’96), Senior Associate for Communication at All Saints in Pasadena: “I marched because I believe what Jesus told us in John 8:32 – that the truth will set us free – and the truth is that the world is changing because of small groups of thoughtful, committed young people who are refusing to accept no for an answer. Young #BlackLivesMatter leaders working to dismantle racism and white supremacy. Young Dreamers leading the fight for just immigration reform. And young leaders calling BS on the gun lobby and challenging all of us to be the change that will set us free of the scourge of gun violence that plagues our nation. I marched because it is time for them to lead and for us to follow. I marched because it is long past time for justice to roll down … and because I find balm for my own weary soul in the passion and power of our youth.

CST Professor Najeeba Syeed: “I marched because I believe that a society has an obligation to protect its children and when that duty has been violated, as a Muslim I must stand up for justice along with the children who are doing so.”

Denyse Barnes, M.Div. Student and Assistant Pastor at Hollywood United Methodist Church: “I marched because something has to be done to protect our children. I grew up in a country where there has only been one school shooting (Dunblane, Scotland 1996), which resulted in much stricter gun control laws, including outlawing of private ownership of most handguns. People have a right to feel safe in schools, places of worship, movie theaters, concerts, and anywhere else they gather. It is a sad world when the first thing one does when going to see a movie is check where the exits are; or when an 8-year-old little girl doesn’t any longer want the light up shoes she has coveted for so long because they will make her too visible if a shooter is in her school; when young adults are required to step up to the plate, be vocal and call for change because for them, mass shootings in their schools are a way of life. The actions of the youth of this country have inspired me to take action myself. I have long understood that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need to walk the walk just as Jesus modeled for us. Feeling a fleeting emotion of outrage, sorrow, or anger when reading a Facebook post and then scrolling on to the next thing is inadequate and in fact desensitizing us from feeling the spur to act on those feelings, and work towards making the world a better place.

“A number of church members expressed to me a desire to show support for these incredible youth and march in support of them. We held an event to make signs to carry on the march one Sunday after worship, and a number of our youth were involved in that activity. On the day, 35 people from our Hollywood Campus marched in the LA March and 20 people from our Harmony Toluca Lake Campus participated in the Burbank march. We all felt the experience was very powerful and empowering. As an immigrant, I have been reluctant to be too visible a presence in marches and rallies, but this time I could no longer hold back and leave it to everyone else. The sense of community we found with others in the march was deeply felt, and there was a great sense of a start of something more tangible; a number of church members expressed a desire to take more action, to work harder towards a change and to be the agents of change we are called to be as Christians in this broken and hurting world.”