Goshen College students, faculty and staff showed their support for the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting and protested against the lack of gun control in the United States by participating in the national walkout on Wednesday morning.

The walkout wasn’t necessarily a walkout, as it took place at 10 a.m. when no classes are scheduled on the GC campus. Instead, students gathered around the peace pole across from the Union building.

Campus Pastor Gwen Gustafson-Zook began the walkout by reading Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life, that you and you children may live.”

Students, faculty and staff were then invited to a “sacred space of silence [to] acknowledge the 17 lives lost, and the hundreds of friends and family members who now live with the ever-present pain of senseless violence in their lives” while 17 bells rang. Due to an error, the bells never rang. Gustafson-Zook took the moment to point out the irony.

“Life doesn’t happen the way we plan,” she said. “...We must take what is and turn it to what should be… something that is full of life, and that is lifegiving for all.”

From there, students, faculty and staff members recited the names of the 17 people who died, as well as a quick description of each person.

Then the participants joined in singing three verses of “Lord, Listening To Your Children Praying.”

Between each verse, Gustafson-Zook stated affirmations such as, “We join to say: Yes to life, yes to love, yes to compassionate engagement in the world, filled with the love, power and grace of God. Amen.”

Students will have another opportunity to demand stricter gun control and join thousands of others at the national #MarchForOurLives movement, which will take place in Washington D.C. on March 24. Bethany Christian high school students plan to take two buses to D.C. for the march and have extended the invitation to Goshen College students as well. If interested, contact Jace Longenecker at jblongenecker@goshen.edu.

Another opportunity for students to voice their opinions and support is the local sister march taking place at Goshen High School, 401 Lincolnway E, at 1 p.m. on March 24. Students are encouraged to attend the local march as the annual International Student Coffeehouse is taking place that evening.

Goshen College is also hosting an active shooter response training for students, faculty and staff on March 27 at 4 p.m. in the Church Chapel.

The training will be lead by Campus Safety and the Goshen Police Department. Students, faculty and staff will be informed of their options.

“Knowing how to respond to a situation with an active shooter extends far beyond our campus and helps keep us and those around us safe, anyplace and any time,” said a communicator announcement advertising the training, “The unpredictable nature of these situations means everyone needs to know their options, no matter where they are.”