Dear fellow Presbyterians

Dear friends and colleagues,

You have seen the facts: we’ve had more mass shootings this year than there are days, we are 5% of the world population and account for 1/3 of its mass shootings, and that there was not one but two shootings in our country on December 2 (and that’s what made the news).

I spent much of last night posting overtures and reports from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I didn’t do this just because I am the vice moderator and feel as though I need to inform others about the resources that our at our fingertips. Each Sunday when I opened the bulletin of my church, I would read, “We are all ministers of the church.” I didn’t really think that much about the statement growing up. There is not a hierarchy. There isn’t a boss who demands certain actions. We are all ministers doing the work we are called to on this earth.

We are a denomination of words. We’re great at policy making and debate. Some would even say experts! But as I watched the news unfold yesterday and today, I am reminded that we are all ministers.

It’s time for us stand up and demand more, both of ourselves and others. We have the policies and words to back us up. We know what the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states about gun violence. It’s now up to us to do something about it. We can no longer avoid the tough conversations with our neighbors in the pews, leave the messaging to the preacher in the pulpit, rely on our pastors to do the leg work in our communities or believe that a statement from the denomination will be enough.

We are all ministers. We are all the Church.

We’ve engaged in a churchwide conversation about the identity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I want us to continue to engage in policy and statement making because it’s a way that we have a voice in the national conversation. But I also hope that our identity involves the local congregations to presbyteries to synods to the national leadership doing the hard, tough work of educating/engaging one another and our politicians in demanding changes to address gun violence. I want to be a part of a denomination that recognizes the historical reality of America that racializes others when faced with fear and decides to respond with love; we need to look no further than the Japanese internment, a black teenager wearing a hoodie, a Sikh man questioned about his Muslim beliefs, or news outlets that yesterday said the shooters names sounded, “foreign.” I want us to remember the photographs of Aylan Kurdi washing up on the Turkish beach and we open our doors to welcome more Syrian refugees because others pull back in suspicion.

Let’s not just talk about who we are as a denomination…let’s live it.

Gun Violence Prevention from 221st General Assembly (2014)

Gun Violence Policy from 219th General Assembly

Resource created for congregations based on the policy from 219th General Assembly

“Trigger” (A film created by David Barnhardt based on the policy from 219th General Assembly. It includes 4 lesson discussion guide if you purchase from PDS)

6 thoughts on “Dear fellow Presbyterians

  1. RLL says:

    This is a perfect example of why PC USA is becoming a marginalized denomination- good riddance.

    Criminals and terrorists do not follow the law. Your feel good rhetoric targets the law abiding and will leave them unable to defend themselves.

    You write of Syrian refugees washing up on shores. I think they may of wanted to defend themselves, but people thinking like you rendered them defenseless. There is a reason Totalitarian regimes ban gun ownership.

    Gun control is about people control and is a political calculation. The church body deserves better than this type of leadership from PC USA.

    With the slide in the PC USA membership, I can only take satisfaction that it’s days are limited as a viable organization.

    Like

  2. Janet Martin says:

    Your article came to me at a time when I thought I was just going to give in. Our country seems to be in such a mess and this last shooting just about put me over the edge. I was a little angry and hopeless. After reading your article I decided that there was something I could do. I sought out a local gun safety group and joined the march they are having this Sunday. I feel called to respond as we all should. Thanks for the reminder! Blessings

    Like

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