Swords to Plowshares blacksmith working at the forge. Photo contributed by Jim Curry.

An Episcopal bishop will melt down guns into jewelry and gardening tools to raise awareness about gun violence at Grace Episcopal Church in Bath this Saturday.

Swords to Plowshares was established in 2017, working alongside volunteer blacksmiths and local law enforcement to transform unwanted firearms into garden tools, rhythm instruments and jewelry, according to co-founder Jim Curry. This will be the group’s first event in Maine.

“I think that we keep being reminded of the need to address gun violence as a public health matter,” said the Rev. Pam Mott, priest at Grace Church. “This is one of those tangible things; transforming something that once could destroy into something that helps create and grow.”

Trowels are made from shotgun barrels. Photo contributed by Jim Curry

Curry said the program was built with a Bible passage in mind: They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4).

Curry said choosing to start Swords to Plowshares wasn’t just about the growing gun problem in America; it was personal. In 2012, while he was working as a bishop in Connecticut, two children in his parish were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

“We don’t have to be bound by the violence that is around us. We can take charge of that,” said Curry. “And we do that in such a way that isn’t shaming really anybody, but to say, ‘We have the choice. I can turn in my gun, or I can safely store it.’ We have the choice to follow ancient prophecies.” he said.


According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 45,000 people are killed by guns in America each year. The CDC also reported a 35% increase in gun-related homicides and a growing rate of suicides from 2019 to 2020.

According to the Swords to Plowshares website, “The strategy we apply to this problem is to convert weapons of death into tools of life and then use those tools for the betterment of the community, all with the goal of reducing senseless gun deaths.”

Curry said materials used to make garden tools come from “buyback” or “takeback” days — when locals turn unwanted guns and ammunition in to local police for destruction.

The last takeback day in Maine was June 11, according to mainegunsafety.org/.

The event on Saturday is not a gun takeback day, but an interactive demonstration to do some blacksmithing with gun materials Curry has brought with him. He said each person will have the chance to make their own heart pendant from the barrel of a gun.

Necklaces made from shotgun barrels. Photo contributed by Jim Curry

Traveling up and down the east coast sharing his blacksmithing work, Curry said working with individuals who have lost someone to gun violence is empowering.

“It gives people the chance to grieve but also to take power onto themselves,” he said.

The event will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Grace Church, at 1100 Washington St. in Bath.

For more information about Swords for Plowshares Northeast, visit s2pnortheast.org/.

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