Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando, Guns, Vigils, and Churc

The Pulse Night Club attack came across my Facebook feed and Huffington Post as I prepared to preach on Sunday morning. At first, the report was 20 were killed, which was a horrific amount.  By 9:30 am, it was 50, including the killer, Omar Mateen.

I was shocked.  Horrified.  Stunned.

I went into the pulpit to preach a sermon that I had eerily titled, "Healing a Broken Community". To say the least, it was easy to weave in the story of Orlando in the part of the sermon that covered the sense of "brokenness."

But then I surprised myself toward the end of the sermon when I recounted that the gun violence towards gays/LGBTQ people is not isolated in Orlando, but also here in Portland, Oregon.  There are some streets and areas of this city where I would not kiss a partner because of my fear of violence. And four years ago, I could not be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) if I were an out LGBTQ person.  In fact, I know that charges were being drawn against me by another ordained clergy person in New Hope Presbytery because I am out and gay and an ordained clergy person.

Violence: my mom realized by the end of the sermon that I could be a victim of violence because I am gay and live in the USA, where guns and AR15 rifles can easily be purchased.

Friends of mine are visiting from Australia.  I asked them before the shooting if they thought we were a gun loving country and they laughed: "Of course! You have guns everywhere, don't you?"

My friend Paul Fukui and I went to one of two vigils in downtown Portland, outside of Embers, an LGBTQ night club. 2,000 people were there.

But there were no vigils near where I live and preach.

So tonight there is a vigil at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.  I bought the church's first rainbow flag. I expect 25-30 people to arrive.  I touched base with the rabbi in the neighborhood and president of a nearby mosque, but haven't heard back from them.

And I will pray.

We will read the names.

There is a sheet to give people an idea of what to do to curb gun violence.

This is a solemn week.



Writing letters to representatives and senators.


God be with us.

Pax! B

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