BOULDER, Colorado (AP) – Good Friday was healed with a blow of a hammer at Boulder Mennonite Church.
Dozens of parishioners gathered in a vigil to pray, reflect, and remember 10 victims of a mass shooting at the nearby King Soopers on March 22nd.
The event was accompanied by the steady clink of a hammer as people take turns shaping dismantled guns into garden tools a quarter of a mile from where the shooting took place. The Boulder Mennonite Church is directly across from Broadway.
Colorado Springs-based RAWtools travels the state and country offering demonstrations, non-violent training, and activities related to gun violence. These demonstrations are a central part of their work – taking donated weapons, dismantling them, heating the metal in a forge and turning them into tools, a literal application of a verse from the book of Isaiah in the Bible: “They will strike their swords into plowshares and their spears in cut hook. “
The vigil was boosted by the mass shooting, said Pastor Randy Spaulding. The Church had planned a brief Good Friday service first, and then it was March 22nd. Mike Martin, founder and CEO of RAWtools, reached out and offered to come over, as did other faith leaders.
“We said yes, let’s take a swing and hammer the hell out of a weapon and make something out of it that will be used to heal, cultivate and care for the earth,” said Spaulding.
Many Church members shop at these King Soopers and know the victims, he said.
People are often grateful for the chance to swing a gun, Martin said. He started RAWtools eight years ago after filming at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“We respect thoughts and prayers, but we also feel that this must lead to action. We can pray and make statements, but if we don’t do anything beyond that, we’re still falling a little short, ”he said.
“We are offering an opportunity where you don’t have to wait for legislation. It is an open invitation for people to swap their weapons for gardening tools, but also an open invitation to envision different ways of resolving our conflicts,” he continued away.
The weapons used in the demonstration were donated by Colorado residents, Martin said.
The experience brought tears to Holly Varga, who lives in Lafayette. She felt the effects of the shooting, she said, but coming to Boulder to visit the memorial and hammer a gun among fellow community members brought new meaning.
“Little did I know it would be so powerful just to be with people,” she said. “You see that there really are opportunities to change something. I reconnected with the importance of expressing yourself through action. “