Rachel’s Day

“. . . Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says the Lord: Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.” (Jeremiah 31:15–17)

In 1994, one woman urged her congregation, Bethel Lutheran Church on the west side of Chicago, to support children facing violence. They began by clearing a vacant lot and turning it into a garden— Rachel’s Garden. It became a place where folks—mostly mothers—could come to mourn children killed by gun violence in the past year. They also planted a white cross and flowers in remembrance of these young ones. Two years later, the Metro Chicago Synodical Women’s Organization brought a memorial to the Third Triennial Convention (1996) of Women of the ELCA to broaden awareness of the violence children face and actions to address it. The convention passed the memorial, resolving “That ELCA women encourage their congregations to recognize the first Sunday in May each year as Rachel’s Day, based on Jeremiah 31:15–17 wherein Rachel grieved for her children, to mourn the loss of our children and to renounce the forces of evil and fear that plague our nation.”

A Litany of Lament and Hope For Rachel’s Day 

Read other ways to combat gun violence in your community

Take the first step,” Gather magazine, April 2024

The Rachel’s Day Resource to end gun violence,” by Valora Starr, Women of the ELCA blog, April 2017