An Episcopal bishop will melt guns into jewelry and garden tools at Grace Episcopal Church in Bath this Saturday to raise awareness of gun violence.
Founded in 2017, Swords to Plowshares works with volunteer blacksmiths and local law enforcement to convert unwanted firearms into garden tools, rhythm instruments and jewelry, according to co-founder Jim Curry. This will be the group’s first event in Maine.
“I think we are continually reminded of the need to address gun violence as a public health issue,” said Rev. Pam Mott, priestess of Grace Church. “It’s one of those tangible things; transforming something that could once be destroyed into something that helps create and grow.”
Curry said the program was built with one Bible passage in mind: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning knives; Nation will not take up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4).
Curry said that the decision to start Swords to Plowshares wasn’t just about the growing gun problem in America; it was personal. In 2012, while he was serving as a bishop in Connecticut, two children in his ward were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“We don’t have to be tied to the violence around us. We can take care of that,” said Curry. “And we’re doing that in a way that doesn’t shame anyone, but to say, ‘We have a choice. I can surrender my gun or keep it safe.’ We have a choice to follow ancient prophecies,’ he said.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45,000 people are killed by guns in America each year. The CDC also reported a 35% increase in gun-related homicides and a growing suicide rate from 2019 to 2020.
According to the Swords to Plowshares website, “The strategy we are applying to this problem is to convert death weapons into tools of life and then use those tools for the good of the community, all with the goal of reducing pointless gun deaths.”
Curry said materials used to make garden tools stem from “buyback” or “take back” days — when locals turn over unwanted guns and ammunition to local police for disposal.
According to mainegunsafety.org/, the last redemption day in Maine was June 11th.
Saturday’s event is not a gun take-back day, but an interactive demonstration of forging using gun materials that Curry brought with him. He said that each person will have the opportunity to create their own heart pendant from the barrel of a gun.
Curry traveled up and down the East Coast sharing his blacksmith work. He said working with people who have lost someone to gun violence is empowering.
“It gives people the opportunity to grieve, but also the power to take upon themselves,” he said.
The event will take place at Grace Church, 1100 Washington St., Bath, on Saturday from 1pm to 3pm.
For more information on Swords for Plowshares Northeast, visit s2pnortheast.org/.