A few weeks ago a group of Redeemer-ites, and other members of the Diocese gathered in the Ed building on a sunny Saturday to attend a training called Safeguarding God’s Children/Safeguarding God’s People. The goal of the training was to understand how we can participate in making the Church as safe a place as we could for all of God’s children by creating space where people are free from harassment, coercion, and predation. I am grateful for everyone who came to do this hard and important work.
A few days before this workshop, our bishop released model guidelines for guns on church grounds, titled Gun Violence Guidelines. The model guidelines are meant to be used by churches to allow congregants, as well volunteers and staff, to carry concealed firearms on church property with the permission of the church. I have to say, when I saw the title, I did not expect what was contained in the communication—an avenue to carrying guns in church. It felt very counter to the work that I was preparing to undertake with many of you.
Jesus was quite clear on the night he was arrested by armed authorities. He told the disciples to put their swords away. And elsewhere he calls on disciples, on the church not to put our personal protection above creating spaces where God can be known in the fullest way possible. We should, we must, do what we can to make our communities safe for all people. I believe that work such as Safeguarding trainings is essential to that work. The church should also be at the forefront of advocacy for police de-escalation training, and fighting poverty by creating pathways for individuals to move out of poverty, as well as addressing the systemic issues that keep people poor. These are things that we do to make the church and the world safe. Firearms in the house of the Lord do not.
We also need to acknowledge that being a follower of Jesus is risky. Jesus is also clear about that. Jesus promises that we will be persecuted, hated, and tempted to put our own personal safety above all else. The truth is that, as a predominantly white congregation in the north suburbs of Seattle, we have already faced, in the break-in this past February, as bad an event as is likely to occur to us. I pray daily that this is true. But as long as our doors are open there is always risk. I am certain, though, that if we close the doors, lock the doors, hunker down in the name of safety, that we will cease to be a church in fairly short order.
So long as I am rector, we will not adopt guidelines about concealed weapons in church. They are an idol, of power, of control, of safety. Let me be clear. If, as a member of the Church of the Redeemer you feel that you absolutely must carry a concealed firearm in church in order to feel safe—stay home. We must do what we can to build up the church to make the church as much a place of safety as we can, and remember at the same time that we risk everything because we have everything to gain in Christ who risked all for us.
—Fr. Jed Fox, Rector
Church of the Redeemer
Welcome to Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County, Washington. As you travel your road, go with friends walking the way of Jesus at Redeemer.
Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.
The Episcopal Church welcomes you.