The atmosphere was electric in a room filled with spirited shouts of “Amen!” The Church came to college.
More than 200 community and interfaith leaders gathered for the first ever Faith Leaders’ Gun Violence Summit held March 16 on the campus of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS). Like-minded men and women were united in their passion to address the epidemic of gun violence that impacts the lives of victims and their families, as well as the perpetrators.
The decision to convene the Summit at the storied institution of Christian higher education near Battery Park was genius. The idea was initiated by Nyack 2004 alumnus, Rev. Gilford Monrose. Approval for the venue was obtained by Nyack/ATS alumnus, Rev. Dr. Charles Galbreath, (now Associate Dean of ATS). This milestone moment in the history of the College and Seminary harkened back to the vision of Dr. A.B. Simpson, who founded the institution in 1882.
Dr. Simpson organized an alliance of leaders with a heart for the marginalized and underserved of the City and subsequently established the Missionary Training Institute to educate leaders for service to the disenfranchised population in New York City and to nations abroad.
Much like his alma mater’s founder, Rev. Monrose, with strategic intent, gathered a plenary of interfaith leaders, diverse by denomination, race and ethnicity. Recently appointed Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Rev. Monrose handpicked speakers who are on the frontlines of the battle for the safety and well-being of communities. In addition to dynamic remarks from Nyack/ATS President Rajan Mathews and a powerful exhortation from Mayor Adams, speakers included:
• Dr. Maria Liu Wong, New York Coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Churches
• Rev. Marie Tatro, Vicar for Community Justice Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
• Rev. Frederick Davie, Chair, Community Police Relations Committee of the Interfaith Center of New York
• Minister Yolanda Richard, Director of Memberships & Strategic Partnerships, FPWA
• Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director, Christian Defense Coalition, Washington, D.C.
• Mark Stewart, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs
Following the plenary session, breakout groups designated for each New York City borough–the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island–met in campus classrooms. The agenda of the working groups proposed action steps to be executed in summer 2022 and the formation of partnerships within each classroom.
March 16, 2022 will go down in the history of Nyack/ATS under the administration of President Rajan Mathews as a day when the legacy of the school came full circle—the Church serving others—again in the City where the story began nearly 140 years ago.