Holy Conversations on Gun Violence in America: A Beginning

Do we have to talk about guns at church? It is a good question. Many members and friends of West Raleigh say, yes, we do.

gun violenceThey have been yearning to have this conversation for a long time. Others are reluctant. They know this is an important national issue that needs attention, but it is also attached to so much that polarizes and is polarizing. They yearn for church to be a place that unites. Still others have plates so full of personal and professional demands that it has been their hope and prayer that the right people will step forward at the right time to lead this conversation. If you find yourself in any of those streams of thought, let me assure you that you are not alone at West Raleigh. This is a hard and complicated conversation. As the pastor, I join members of the Mission, Peace & Justice Committee and the Adult Christian Formation Committee in the conviction that it is a necessary conversation. We also believe that, for people of faith, it is a holy conversation, and we are grateful that Rev. Dr. Rob Evans has agreed to facilitate the conversation here at West Raleigh.

In this week’s lectionary reading, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder…’ But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21). He then addresses a variety of laws, each one holding ancient truth that is intended to protect and provide life; yet, all of them are limited if not understood in light of the Gospel that calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, asking of us exceeding righteousness (all in Matthew 5). It is not enough not to murder. As Christians we are called to be part of God’s life giving and life changing mission in the world. This does not mean that we will all be of one mind about something as complicated as gun violence in America. Rob will lead us in a conversation that is grounded in the Gospel and takes a multi-disciplinary approach. We will look at gun violence through the lens of public health, racial justice, the legal and judiciary system, as well as considering it a spiritual and moral issue. We will consider our own experience and history with guns, and through it all, what makes this conversation holy, is that while we recognize our own limits and limited perspectives, our trust is in the Lord of life, the one who made heaven and earth, the one who called all of life good and worthy of blessing. Thank you, members and friends of West Raleigh for your faithful discipleship.

May the Spirit lead the Way,


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