Good News: Rallying against Savannah gun violence

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - People who have lost the most to Savannah's gun violence are now trying to do something about it.

There was hope that change would start to take root Saturday at an interfaith prayer service and symbolic tree-planting for families who have lost a loved one to Savannah's gun violence.

"That's a ripple of hope,'' Linda Wilder Bryan said of the tree that was planted at the ceremony. "It means people of all colors and denominations and religions know that we must protect our children.''

Bryan lost a son to gun violence in 2015. Since then, she has become an accidental activist, someone who helps those who share her pain and tries to prevent the kind of situations that caused it.

"When we lose somebody in this community, it doesn't just affect me,'' Bryan said. "It affects all the mothers, all the parents. We are really parents of everyone in the community, and if we start looking at it that way, we are more proactive and we don't have to be reactive.''

The prayer service honored those who have been lost. The plating symbolized something else.

"The tree obviously is a life,'' said Reverend Will Shelburne, of the First Presbyterian Church. "We're planting something that is going to grow and be a living thing in this community.''

It will also be a reminder of what gun violence takes away.

"My son's life was not in vain,'' Bryan said. "And all these people out here of different religions and genders encourages me that his life wasn't in vain.''

"Anytime we can gather as like-minded people and show unity, love, and concern for the community, it is an important and powerful and positive occasion, Rev. Shelburne said.

The ceremony originated in a joint Sunday School class by Butler Memorial and First Presbyterian churches.

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