Two years ago, the Social Witness Committee and Vestry agreed that we should place a sign above the doors of our cathedral, large enough to be read by all who pass by, proclaiming the biblical admonition against killing and announcing that our congregation opposes gun violence. Since that time the use of guns in the commission of violent and horrific attacks has escalated rather than abated. The sign on the front of our cathedral is dirty from the grime of our city.
We must ask ourselves difficult questions: What witness we will give to the vision of peace, life, and love proclaimed by Jesus? While the recent synagogue shooting underscores the need to speak and act against hate and violence in our society, is our opposition to gun violence enough? How do we make a witness for peace, while still making sure the church is a safe place for all of us as we gather for worship on Sundays — especially since we have found it necessary to employ armed security outside our building, after an event last year where members of the church that meets in our facility were threatened with a knife at our doors? What action plan can we put in place to address a situation of violence if one were to occur at St. John’s as occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; or Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina?
These are all questions that suggest no easy answers. So, we invite and urge all members of our community to a parish meeting this coming Sunday, November 4, All Saints Sunday, at 9:15 a.m. This will be an opportunity to listen, to share, and most importantly, reflect and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to our community at this time and in this place. What does it mean for us to hear afresh Jesus’ good news that the Kingdom of God has come near? Let’s open our hearts and eyes to the possibility of this good news.
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