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Brad Fiscus

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The horrifying trend of school shootings is something that deserves more than blog posts and tweets, and it represents a clear threat to the students we serve.  Our annual conference gatherings represent a real opportunity for us to help our students take action.

After a group of pastors approached me requesting to talk with young people about the recent school shootings, I offered to hold a zoom video conference with our Conference Council on Youth Ministry. Based on that conversation, these resolutions were created to express the concerns of pastors and young people relaying our desire to call the Tennessee Conference to intentional action by partnering with schools to help provide assistance with this crisis in our communities. 

I offer these resolutions as a starting point for your discussions.  Hopefully they can inspire your students to get actively involved as leaders in your annual conference.

 RESOLVE Resolution 1 Pertaining to School Shootings: 
Districts to develop plans of action 

Whereas: 

1. The students, faculties and staffs of the nation’s schools are still killed, injured, or traumatized by persons shooting them on campuses with firearms, and 

2. The trauma to the victims, their families and their communities endures for many years, and 

3. People of good will on different sides of the theological and political spectrum are united that these shootings must end, and 

4. Open dialogue among people of faith must continue but we are convicted that we must also act, and 

5. Our children and school workers are precious in the eyes of God and cherished in our hearts as gifts from God, and 

6. We vowed in our baptism that we accept the freedom and power God gives us “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” (UMH, 34), and 

7. It is our responsibility as Christian people and as citizens of the country to guide and protect children and their teachers and school workers while on the job; and 

8. We recognize that there are many contributing factors which may contribute to such atrocities and that there is no single measure that is “the” answer; and 

9. We, as thoughtful guardians of their well-being, should be actively engaged in providing safe and peaceful environments in which our students and school workers may thrive and flourish: 

Therefore, be it resolved by the  Annual Conference that: 

1. Each district of the Tennessee Conference shall establish a plan of action for helping to enhance safety at schools that accord with other relevant resolutions that may be approved by this annual conference, and 

2. Each district’s plan of action shall be included in writing in materials distributed to delegates of the 2019 

 

RESOLVE Resolution 2 Pertaining to School Shootings: 
Call for volunteers 

Whereas: 

1. The students, faculties and staffs of the nation’s schools are still killed, injured, or traumatized by persons shooting them on campuses with firearms, and 

2. The trauma to the victims, their families and their communities endures for many years, and 

3. People of good will on different sides of the theological and political spectrum are united that these shootings must end, and 

4. Open dialogue among people of faith must continue but we are convicted that we must also act, and 

5. Our children and school workers are precious in the eyes of God and cherished in our hearts as gifts from God, and 

6. We vowed in our baptism that we accept the freedom and power God gives us “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” (UMH, 34), and 

7. It is our responsibility as Christian people and as citizens of the country to guide and protect children and their teachers and school workers while on the job; and 

8. We recognize that there are many contributing factors which may contribute to such atrocities and that there is no single measure that is “the” answer; and 

9. We, as thoughtful guardians of their well-being, should be actively engaged in providing safe and peaceful environments in which our students and school workers may thrive and flourish: 

Therefore, be it resolved by the Annual Conference that: 

1. United Methodist adults of the Tennessee Conference, in coordination with their local school officials and/or law-enforcement agencies, are urged to assist schools’ staff and on-scene law-enforcement officers on campuses as unarmed volunteers for matters related to safety and security of students, faculty and staff, especially at the beginning and closing of the school day; and 

2. Adult United Methodists of the Tennessee Conference serve, as may be possible, as Tennessee School Safety Specialists in accordance with the standards set forth by the state’s Department of Education. 

3. The secretary of the Annual Conference shall submit a copy of this resolution to the Tennessee Commissioner of Education. 

RESOLVE Resolution 3 Pertaining to School Shootings: 
Call for Increased Law-Enforcement Presence 

Whereas: 

1. The students, faculties and staffs of the nation’s schools are still killed, injured, or traumatized by persons shooting them on campuses with firearms, and 

2. The trauma to the victims, their families and their communities endures for many years, and 

3. People of good will on different sides of the theological and political spectrum are united that these shootings must end, and 

4. Open dialogue among people of faith must continue but we are convicted that we must also act, and 

5. Our children and school workers are precious in the eyes of God and cherished in our hearts as gifts from God, and 

6. We vowed in our baptism that we accept the freedom and power God gives us “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” (UMH, 34), and 

7. It is our responsibility as Christian people and as citizens of the country to guide and protect children and their teachers and school workers while on the job; and 

8. We recognize that there are many contributing factors which may contribute to such atrocities and that there is no single measure that is “the” answer; and 

9. We, as thoughtful guardians of their well-being, should be actively engaged in providing safe and peaceful environments in which our students and school workers may thrive and flourish; and 

10. We recognize that armed force by law-enforcement officers to stop a school shooter, while regrettable, may sometimes be necessary, and 

11. Presently, a minority of Tennessee schools have a School Resource Officer assigned; and 

12. Typically, only one SRO is on duty in schools in schools that have them; and 

13. A high number of our schools are too large for a single SRO officer to secure effectively; and 

14. We note that the School Safety Act of 2018 is still pending in the Tennessee legislature at the time of submission of this resolution to the Conference: 

Therefore, be it resolved by the 2018 Tennessee Annual Conference that: 

1. We support enactment by the Tennessee legislature to enable local school districts to hire off-duty, though still actively serving, law-enforcement officers as additional armed security officers on school campuses. 

2. Members of the Tennessee Conference urge their own legislators to enact such legislation; and 

3. The secretary of the Annual Conference shall submit a copy of this resolution to the governor of the state, the leader of each political party of the state senate and house, to the commissioner of the Department of Education, and to the commissioner of the state Department of Safety & Homeland Security.