Hundreds of young people and adults from across East London united last Saturday (15 June) to take a stand against a growing culture of violence and knife crime epidemic.
The Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police in Newham, Waheed Khan, agreed to release knives that had been seized from the streets of Newham, which had the highest murder rate of any London borough last year. Under the supervision of a metalsmith and two blacksmiths, people were invited to ‘beat these knives from death to life’, in the words of liturgy crafted for the occasion.
Rev Dr Sally Mann, minister at Bonny Downs Baptist Church, East Ham, and a trustee and spokesperson for Red Letter Christians UK, said: ‘Newham has been at the heart of this crisis of violence. We watched as young people who had lost friends to knife crime, and our mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, beat those knives. They are being transformed into a beautiful sculpture for our community garden and for tools we can use to grow food together in a community project.’
Author Shane Claiborne (pictured above) was also at the event. He leads Red Letter Christians in the US, along with Rev Dr Tony Campolo, who has spoken at several Christian Resources Exhibitions over the years. Both men are in the UK to launch the movement here.
‘We’ve been melting down guns in the US,’ said Campolo. ‘Some 37 cities have taken donated guns and turned them into garden tools, inspired by the prophetic vision of Isaiah: ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares.’”
Shane Claiborne said: ‘The vision reminds us that life is more powerful than death and love is more powerful than hatred. God invites all of us to participate in building the world we dream of.’
The group are called ‘Red Letter’ Christians because many printed and online versions of the New Testament feature the words of Jesus in red.
‘We come from a diverse range of backgrounds and church affiliations and want to be people who take Jesus’ words seriously in our personal devotion, in our communities and in UK public life,’ said Campolo.
• Click here more information about Red Letter Christians UK