Should Christians be involved in the gun violence debate? Should Alaska UM pastors preach a sermon on the subject? Should our churches offer forums where they can have a respectful dialogue? My answer is yes to all of the above. As much as the gun debate tends to polarize people the church has an opportunity to model to our communities the skills needed to have a civil discourse.
When I was growing up I was taught how to shoot a 22 rifle safely. My grandfather was a firearm instructor for the police department. When he died my father gave me three of his guns. I went through a pacifist stage and sold them all to a friend. I later regretted this decision in part because I failed to respect my grandfather's legacy, but also because I moved to Alaska.
Alaska is where I became a gun person. I wanted to be able to protect my family while hiking in the back country. I learned that hunting here is a necessary part of managing the wildlife balance in nature. I learned about native traditions of using every part of an animal. It all seems so natural and respectful. I do not hear anyone calling for a total gun ban.
I won't list the current arguments in this debate. This is a multifaceted issue. As people of God we need to keep the focus on our desire to end gun violence. Here is a link to our Board of Church and Society on this topic. http://umc-gbcs.org/blog/gun-violence-must-end
My message today is to encourage our UM leaders to explore ways to discuss this complex issue with the love and respect that comes with knowing Christ as our Savior and Lord.