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Advent Declaration on Gun Violence

Advent Declaration on Gun Violence 

Preamble. Pastors and leaders in the Church from throughout the US met on December 10, 2015 to express grief that we need to lead our congregations over and over in worship services of lament for senseless deaths from guns.

Two years later, in 2017, our grief has deepened, our lament intensified, and our commitment to call for more strict controls on guns in our society has grown more resolute. Therefore, we invite others to join us in this Declaration.

We recognize that this is a particular cultural issue woven into our American society. A spirit of fear, enmity, racial prejudice, distrust, and violence is tragically normal in our way of life. We believe this is contrary to the gospel, and so we say, “Enough of this. No more.” There is something seriously wrong with our way of life if we tolerate violence in our society. We believe God is calling us to stop this accelerating, downward spiral of destruction. There is an urgent need for followers of the Prince of Peace to challenge the easy use of guns in our society.

Therefore, this Advent, we commit ourselves to the following implications of the call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we understand it:

1. We advocate for greater restraint and stricter controls on the private use of guns. “O Lord, in you we take refuge” (Ps 7:1). “Alas for those who trust in chariots…but do not look to the Holy One of Israel” (Is 31:1). “All who take the sword will perish by the sword (Mt 26:52). Therefore,

We renounce the advocacy by Christians for civilians’ use of deadly force against people. 

We confess, repent of, and work to surmount the tragedy of daily terrorism inflicted upon victims of discrimination, racism, and prejudice in our society.

We call for restraint by our police in their use of lethal weapons.

We call for gun practice ranges to end the use of human shaped targets.

We call on our governments to implement the comprehensive prohibition of civilian ownership of assault-type guns.

We commit to exercise pastoral care toward all who have been emotionally harmed by guns as victims, or by their own use of deadly force against others as civilians, police, or military.

2. We accept the way of the cross. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Mt 16:24-26). Therefore,

We renounce the use of guns for self-defense, not because to do so is practical or because God guarantees our safety, but because we believe it’s right and it’s the call of Jesus.

We accept that the way of non-violent resistance to evil involves danger and risk, but also accept that the way of the cross is the path to the joy and peace of the Kingdom.

We follow the way of the cross because all authority belongs to Jesus, God will never leave or forsake us, and God will reconcile all things in Christ.

3. We take up the armor of the Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zech 4:6). “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:10). Therefore, 

We trust in the truth of God’s faithfulness—and stand in prayer against the powers of darkness in our society, homes, and even places of worship that feed fear, hostility, and violence.

We clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ—and refuse to see ourselves as more virtuous or worthy than others who equally share in the image of God.

We put on the shoes of peace—and walk into places of conflict and fear as ambassadors of the gospel of peace.

We take up the shield of faith—and defend ourselves by the trustworthiness of God.

We wear the helmet of salvation—and refuse to entertain thoughts that distract us from Jesus’ life of unconditional love.

We bear the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God—and proclaim to all God’s steadfast love.

4. We seek the justice that makes for peace. “The fruit of justice will be peace; the result of justice will be quietness and trust forever” (Is 32:17). Therefore,

We repent of ways our ancestors and we have exploited, abused, or demeaned others—and commit ourselves to make life right as steps toward reparations.

We engage in actions of focused deterrence—and work with law enforcement and civic organizations to diminish gun violence.

We reject the notion that reconciling peace comes through violence—and work for all people to experience the relational, educational, and economic opportunities necessary to flourish.

5. We pursue love for our enemies. “I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk 6:27). Therefore,

We recognize the full weight of this command—Jesus spoke it to people whose nation was occupied by an oppressive, tyrannical foreign power who mocked their faith.

We refuse to demonize anyone—whether those who inflict violence, or those who, even in the name of Christian faith, advocate for it. We are all children in the image of God.

We obey Jesus’ simple strategies of love: refusing to hate in return, unilaterally forgiving those who harm us, doing good to people who oppose us, and continually praying for God to bless all people, even those who treat us as enemies.

6. We are confident that the goodness of God defeats evil and injustice. “So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’ So, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:18-21). Therefore,

We reject the personal use of deadly force. 

Relying on God’s grace, we commit to lead our faith communities in acts that do good toward enemies, for this is the strongest witness to God’s love and defeat of evil, the most compelling contributor to the transformation of our enemies, the best way to de-escalate violence, and the path to build communities of peace where all can flourish as beloved children of God.

If you would like to add your name to this declaration, send your name and city to

People committing themselves to this Declaration:

Rev. Dr. Tim Dearborn, Seattle, WA

Dr. Kerry Dearborn, Seattle, WA

Rev. Dr. Joy Johnson, Sacramento, CA

Rev. Dr. Scott Herr, Paris, France

Rev. Dr. Justo González

Rev. Dr. Catherine Gunsalus González

Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Cincinnati, OH

Rev. Dr. Paul Alexander, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Ron Sider, Lancaster, PA

Jim Wallis, Washington, DC

Dr. Christena Cleveland, Durham, NC

Dr. Miroslav Volf, Guilford, CT

Jessica Dwelle, Guilford, CT

Dr. Stanley Hauerwas

Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, Seattle, WA

Dr. Ruth Haley Barton, Wheaton, IL

Dr. Nicolas Wolsterstorff, Grand Rapids, MI

Rev. Noel Castellanos, Chicago, IL

Rev. Michael McBride, Berkeley, CA

Rev. Dr. Mark Labberton, Pasadena, CA

Dr. David Gushee, Atlanta, GA

Rev. Bill Haley, Shenandoah Valley, VA

Rev. Colin McCartney, Toronto, ON

Fr. Joel S. Garavaglia-Maiorano, Medford, OR

Rev. Gina Casey, Phoenix, AZ

Dr. Tom Sine, Seattle, WA

Dr. Christine Arondel Sine, Seattle, WA

Rev. Dr. Juan Francisco Martínez, Pasadena, CA

Rev. Dr. Kutter Callaway, Pasadena, CA

Dr. Christopher Hays, Pasadena, CA

Dr. William Dyrness, Altadena, CA

Dr. Grace Dyrness, Altadena, CA

Dr. Amy Sherman, Charlottesville, VA

Rev. Rob Schenck, Washington, DC

Rev. Dr. Bret M Widman, Sacramento, CA

Rev. Dr. Larry Kalajainen, Island Heights, NJ

Rev. Kevin Kitrell Ross, Sacramento, CA

Pastor Sistah Pat Roundtree Rivers, Sacramento, CA

Pastor Ben Rivers, Jr., Sacramento, CA

Rev. Jon L. Wasson, Austin, TX

Rev. Dr. Chris Neufeld-Erdman, Davis, CA

Kristyn Komarnicki, Philadelphia, PA

Rev. Mike Neelley, Mount Vernon, WA

Dr. Jim Caldwell, Seattle, WA

Rev. Eliana Maxim, Seattle, WA

Marisa Gulbranson Gronholz, Seattle, WA

Sara McMahon, Seattle, WA

Rev. Dr. Randolph Miller, Medford, OR

Chris Hoke, Mount Vernon, WA

Sarah Withrow King, Philadelphia, PA

Bishop Robert L. Fitzpatrick,  Honolulu, Hawaii

Rev. Matt Blazer, Simsbury, CT

Alan Cooper, Chicago, IL

Rev. Steve Bieghler, Pomona, CA

Deborah Mariah Martin, Ridgefield, CT

Rev. Silas West, Omaha, NE

Jenni Malyon, Mount Vernon, WA

Matt Malyon, Mount Vernon, WA

Dr. Tracy S. Williams, Walla Walla, WA

Rev. Dr. John C. Bangs, Seattle, WA

Rev. Fr. Primo C. Racimo, Chicago, IL

Rev. Dawn M. Frankfurt, Wichita, KS

Rev. Will Norman, Woodland, CA

Rev. Dr. Zdravko Zack Plantak, Loma Linda, CA

Rev. Stephen Price, Annapolis, MD

Rev. JJ Kissinger, Seattle, WA

Ann Tremain Smith, Vienna, VA

Ken Kierstead, Seattle, WA

Cameron Smith, Seattle, WA

Jessica Wilson, Portland, OR

Rev. Andy Wade, Hood River, OR

Rev. Dr. Daniel M. Saperstein, Saginaw, MI

Rev. Daniel Hutt, Palo Alto, CA

Deb Steinkamp, Bellingham, WA

Geraldine Rostron Afshari, Encinitas, CA

Steve Haas, Federal Way, WA

Rev. Jennifer Ackerman, Pasadena, CA

Rev. Randy Brothers, Seattle, WA

Rev. Ruth Billington,  Fort Collins, CO

Loretta M Pain, Seattle, WA

Rev. C. Earl Mahan, Wichita, KS

Rev. Renée Notkin, Seattle, WA

Dr. Max Hunter, Seattle, WA

Rev. Elizabeth Brick, Woodland, CA

Anna Scott Bell, Washington, D.C.

Rev. Ken Sunoo, Seattle, WA

Rev. Gary R. Weaver, Pueblo, CO

Rev. Gregg Jennings, Fredericksburg, VA

Ryan Church, Seattle, WA

Ann Pascoe-Van Zyl, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Pamela Chesser, Dixon, CA

Rev. Douglas Stephen Abel, Vassar, MI

Carol Furlong, Woodland, CA

Dr. Kent Drescher, San Jose, CA

Rev. Hyun Hur, Pasadena, CA

Rev. Sue Park-Hur, Pasadena, CA

Rev. Dr. Matthew L. Camlin, New Wilmington, PA

Rev. Sophia DeWitt, Fresno, CA

Dale Davis, Bristol, VA

Joel Scott, Waco TX

Mark McDonnel,  Kyiv, Ukraine

Dr. David Lincicum, South Bend, IN

Janet Lim, New York, NY

Rev. Dr. Matthew Poole, Ellicott City, MD

Rev. Frank Famadas, San Juan, PR

Rusty Van Patten

Dr. Kevin Neuhouser,  Seattle, WA

Linda Jean Voth,   Fresno, CA

Brian Valley, Seattle, WA

Calia Beougher Rodriguez, Dallas, TX

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, Worthington, OH

Kristie McDowell-Karn

Rev. Andrew Burns, Alger, OH

Br. Lorenzo Thomas, Delaware, OH

Rev. Samuel D. Kim, New York, NY

Rev. Kristine O’Brien, Oakville, ON

Dr. Craig Detweiler, Los Angeles, CA

Jessica Miller, Seattle, WA

Rev. YuJung Hwang, Ellicott City, MD

Tom Getman, Washington, DC

Dr. Jay Beaman, Portland, OR

Tim Otto, San Francisco, CA

Mike O’Leary, Seattle WA

Debora Gish, San Francisco, CA

Rev. Dr. Sally L. Godard, McMinnville, OR

Byron Borger, Dallastown, PA

Valerie Ralston, Mi Wuk Village, CA

David A. Oertel, Dayton OH

Virginia Gilbert, St. Louis, MO

Rev. Aaron Cho, Seattle, WA

Kent Hotaling, McMinnville, OR

Kay Hotaling, McMinnville, OR

Rev. Lynne Faris Blessing, Seattle, WA

Rev. Gregory A. Wright, Louisville, KY

Rev. Deborah Davis, Angola, IN

Rev. Ian Morgan Cron, Franklin, TN

Rev. Donna Simon, Kansas City, MO

Rev. Linda Motley, Floyd, VA

Rev. Dr. Mikael Broadway, Durham, NC

Barney Wiget, San Francisco, CA

Rev. Dr. Gary Blaine, Walton, KS

Rev. Mark A. Hanna, Fort Collins, CO

Bishop Paul W. Nisly, Grantham, PA

Chaplain Brent Hoy-Bianchi, Reno, NV

Rev. Josh McQueen, Kirkland, WA

Dr. Andrew Ryder, Seattle, WA

Peter Scott, Aberdeen, Scotland

Rev. Dr. Glen A. Taylor, Los Angeles, CA

Steven Park, Washington, DC

Rev. Brian Metzger, Raleigh, NC

Dr. Beth Stovell, Calgary, AB

Dr. Michael McNichols, Irvine, CA

Rev. Dr. Deborah Hannay Sunoo, Seattle, WA

Beth Williamson

Dr. Lindy Backues, Philadelphia, PA

Rev. Thomas Michel, S.J, Doha, Qatar

Rev. Amy Graham, Washington, DC

Scott Tjernagel, New Braunfels, TX

Rev. Samantha Drennan, Allentown, PA

Rev. Dr. Phil Stout, Jackson, MI

Rev. Michael Higgs, Las Vegas, NV

Ben Pitzen, Lansdale, PA

Dr. Ken McNichols, Seattle, WA

Rev. Drew Henderson, Kansas City, MO

Rev. Kathy Turner, Seattle, WA

Rev. Dr. Gregory Turner, Seattle, WA

Samuel Lufi, Philadelphia, PA

Rev. Neely McQueen, Redmond, WA

Rev. T. Abigail Murphy, Stewart Manor, NY

Rev. Roger S. Greene, Cincinnati, OH

Rev. Mario R. Padilla,West Liberty, Iowa

Sarah Jessen, Cos Cob, CT

Pat Swanson, Redmond, WA

Rev. Michelle Wahila, Paris, France

Rev. Ebony Adedayo, Roseville, MN

Rev. Phil Nellis, Seattle, WA

Rev. Khristi Adams, Washington, DC

Timekia Faulkner, Peoria, IL

Dr. Christopher James, Dubuque, IA

Guillermo Mario Jimenez. Everett, WA

Rebecca Loaiza, Tequesta, FL

Michelle Wahila

Rev. Brad Wong, San Francisco, CA

Glenn Smouse,  Corvallis, OR

Dr. Ken Kessler, Richmond, VA

Allen Johnson, Dunmore, West VA

Sarah Camp, Albuquerque, NM

Glenn Parks, Richmond Hill, GA

Tamaria Parks, Richmond Hill, GA

Rev. Duane Beck, Raleigh, NC

Rev. Brian Wright, Firestone, CO

Dr. Donald Zeyl, Kingston, RI

Rev Eric Nicolaysen, Sacramento, CA

Terry McNichols, Seattle, WA

Dr. Johonna Turner, Harrisonburg, VA

Rev. Dr. Scott Dudley, Bellevue, WA

Gretchen Saalbach, Boston, MA

John Weirich, Greenville, SC

Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Washington, DC

Rev. Dr. Dan Price, Eureka, CA

Rev. Dr. Gary Gulbranson  Bellevue, WA

Trevor Osterman, Seattle, WA

Dr. JeDon Emenhiser, McKinleyville, CA

Dr. Tracy Revoir, Portland, ME

Rev. Paul Belz-Templeman, Canby, OR

Rev. Dr. Doug Kelly, Seattle, WA

Elizabeth Smith, Eureka, CA
Nathan Smith, Eureka, CA

Dr. Christopher B. Hays, Pasadena, CA

Devon Rupin, Paris, France

Rev. Rebecca Kuiken, Elkhart, IN

Joe Schlie, Paris, France

Rola Al Ashkar, Beirut, Lebanon

Rev. Tom Kent, Nashville, TN

Rev. Dr. Sam Kim, New York, NY

Rev. Douglas Fondell, Palm Springs, CA

Dr. R. Darrell Smith, Conyers, GA

Pastor Jean Cooper, Barnesville, OH

Sean Gladding, Lexington, KY

Rev. Dr. Don Hamilton, Red Lodge, MT

Sharon Brugger Norton, Goshen, IN

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