Beloved gun-control advocate passes after battling virus
HARRISONBURG, VA — Jim Atwood, well-known gun-control advocate and author of the recent Herald Press title Collateral Damage, died at 4:30 this morning due to COVID-19 complications. He was surrounded by his family at Sunnyside Hospice in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Atwood was pastor emeritus of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Virginia. A leader in the faith-based movement for good gun laws, he served as chair of the anti-gun violence group Heeding God’s Call of Greater Washington, interfaith coordinator of the Million Mom March, and a member of the National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
Earlier this week on June 24, Presbyterian Church USA awarded Atwood a Crystal Teardrop Award for his work to end gun violence.
“Jim was a delight and joy to work with,” said Amy Gingerich, publisher and executive director at Herald Press. “We at Herald Press are honored to have published his last book on such an important and timely topic. Jim was tireless in his pursuit of ending gun violence and his words brought together practical insights and deep theological concern.”
Atwood believed the church should get involved in ending gun violence. “It always gets my dander up when people say the church ought to stay out of a political issue and as a spiritual community, we should stay out of that,” he said in an interview with PC(USA). “Over 150 years ago, that’s how we treated slavery, that it was not a religious or biblical concern, it was an economic and political issue and we bought into that.”
Atwood said there is nothing more spiritual than a human being who is made in the image of God.
In an online statement, Atwood’s family said, “We, Roxana, David (Harry) and Mebane, were by his side and were able to say our final goodbyes and how much we loved him. The last 48 hours were extremely difficult for him and for us. We are relieved that his suffering and pain are over.”
Atwood began suffering with chronic back pain in September and tested positive for COVID-19 on June 3.
For more information, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.