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By Mikaya Thurmond, WRAL anchor/reporter

Goldsboro, N.C. — Houses of worship across America on Sunday pushed to end gun violence in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

With pews filled and their voices lifted, Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro had a clear message of keeping children safe.

Greenleaf was one of many churches around the country mobilizing to put pressure on elected officials to create what they describe as effective gun laws. The church’s pastor, Rev. William Barber, is the former head of the North Carolina NAACP.

“We should be the first ones, in the church, to call for non-violence,” Barber said.

Sunday’s event was called Urban Gun Violence Sabbath. Barber said the recent violence at the Florida school, which killed 17 people, is proof that stiffer gun laws are needed.

“We want to lift up all of our voices, whether it happens in Sandy Hook, Florida, Goldsboro or in Chicago,” Barber said. “That’s why these young people are uniting, but the church can’t be on the sideline.”

By taking their voices from the sanctuary to the streets, Barber believes that lawmakers will be forced to take notice.

On Thursday, religious leaders and organizers from across the country will gather at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for an Urban Gun Violence town hall meeting.

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