DENVER – The message from church leaders at The Potter’s House of Denver Church told a group of students, “we hear you loud and clear.”
Pastors didn’t conduct the usual Palm Sunday service. Instead, Senior Pastor Toure’ Roberts cleared the pulpit to allow a group of Colorado students to discuss their concerns and fears at school.
“There were a lot of students who were my age, and in my grade, and they love the same things I love,” 14-year-old high school freshman Jessica Eyeson said.
She referred to the more than a dozen students who were gunned down in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.
“These kids are hurting,” another teen speaker said from the pulpit. “They're 14, 15, 16, 17-years-old.”
It’s that age group of teens who are worried about much more than education — they’re worried about their lives.
“It's not just about us,” 17-year-old high school senior Sidney Gilford said. “It's about protecting our siblings, our younger siblings, and taking care of them so that they don't have to feel that same fear or concern that we fear.”
Church leaders said the public spends a great deal of time focused on shooting suspects and, understandably, remembering victims. However, Pastor Toure’ said it’s the students who had to return to those tragic scenes who need help now.
“It's sad that you have to talk to your kids like that,” the senior pastor said. “I'm basically telling them how to be tactical at school, and it's just crazy.”
As the conversation continues, the NRA wants to make sure they are being heard too.
“The FBI failed to protect these kids, the sheriff's office failed to protect these kids, school officials failed to protect these kids,” an NRA spokesperson said in a video posted in response to the March for Our Lives rallies.
However, Pastor Toure' said it’s time for everyone to take ownership.
“I don't think it's the NRA's fault because you've got mental health issues, you've got parenting issues,” Pastor Toure' said. “I think it's going to necessitate a multi-pronged approach to really, really make this issue go away.”
As we’ve seen across the globe this weekend, it’s the kids leading the way for change on this issue.
“It's not an NRA issue solely, it's not a school issue, it's not a children's issue,” Pastor Toure' concluded. “This is an American issue.”