Asbury Memorial Highlights Nation's Gun Violence Crisis during Ribbons for a Reason's 5th Anniversary Event

Staff Report

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Asbury Memorial Church commemorated the somber five-year anniversary of their Ribbons for a Reason initiative at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Ribbons for a Reason was launched in 2015 by Asbury Memorial to remember the City of Savannah’s shooting victims and raise public awareness of the rampant gun violence problem across the nation. Asbury Memorial’s pastor Billy Hester, along with congregation member and gun violence prevention advocate, Anne Allen Westbrook, and other church leaders will be in attendance. Anne Allen Westbrook will share insights on the dangers of gun violence in America, including the upsurge of domestic violence during the time of COVID-19.  

The escalation in worldwide domestic violence during the pandemic can be largely attributed to people spending more time at home, creating increased opportunities for violent instances to happen in relationships that are already abusive. 

“When firearms are present in a home, the likelihood that a person—most often a woman—will die goes up five times,” says Anne Allen Westbrook.

The pandemic has also precipitated a nationwide mental health crisis. When mental health issues lead to attempted suicide and firearms are available, statistics are grim. 

“Data shows that most people who attempt suicide and survive, recover; they do not usually go on to die by suicide later on,” explains Anne. “However, when people attempt suicide with a firearm, they’re almost always successful.” 

During each of the past five years, Asbury Memorial Church has tied an orange ribbon to the fence located in front of the church (orange being the nationally recognized color for gun violence prevention) to symbolize every time another Savannah resident senselessly loses his or her life due to gun violence. Children and adolescents who have died are represented with a lighter shade of orange ribbon. The ribbons remain on the fence for an entire calendar year, after which time they are removed, and a new year of memorial ribbons begins. Since the Ribbons for a Reason initiative began in 2015, 212 ribbons (with 18 of these victims under the age of 18) have been displayed along the church’s fence. Sadly, the number of victims to date in 2020 is already higher than last year with 25 gun-related deaths, three of these in people under the age of 18.

Asbury Memorial annually recognizes the gun violence victims on All Saints’ Day by reading the names of everyone who lost their lives that year. The church will continue this tradition during its weekly online worship service at 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1. The virtual service can be accessed online at 

“Ribbons for a Reason has been a powerful witness for us as a church and has led to some great relationships between the church and the community,” says Anne Allen Westbrook. “It’s been tremendously meaningful for local families who’ve lost loved ones to drive by and see the ribbons. I’ve spoken with a lot of mothers, and it’s a driving force for them to know their child’s life mattered---and has not been forgotten.”

Located at 1008 E. Henry Street, Asbury Memorial Church is a welcoming, all-inclusive congregation that celebrates the good news of Jesus Christ. Sunday worship services begin at 11:15 a.m. For more information, please visit or call (912) 233-4351.