Letter to OGA regarding armed guards at General Assembly 225

Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II

Office of the General Assembly

Louisville, KY

June 10, 2022

Dear siblings in Christ,

We read with dismay the news release announcing the presence of armed guards at the Presbyterian Center during meetings of the 225th General Assembly this summer. While we appreciate your desire for a peaceful assembly, we know that true peace cannot be ensured through the threat of violence. Armed agents of the state always present a threat of violence.

For a church that proclaims its faith in the Prince of Peace, to gather behind doors guarded by armed security personnel is contradictory at best and idolatrous at worst. For when we act out of fearfulness and make an idol of a false sense of security we deny our own faith in the One who said so often, “fear not, for I am with you.”

In place of armed guards, we believe funding would be better spent training peace teams in de-escalation and conflict intervention techniques like bystander interruption. Might such training become a model for congregations struggling to craft faithful ways to build more peaceful communities? Our ordination vows call us to lead with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. It would be powerful to invite our churches to imagine building systems of community care and safety that do not involve weapons and agents of the state.

We find it ironic that this assembly will consider an overture that would specifically call on the Presbyterian Mission Agency and its partners to develop study and advocacy materials to “confront the mythology that guns make us safer.”

Let us be clear: guns do not make us safer. Guns inside or outside the Presbyterian Center will not make participants in this summer’s General Assembly safer. Indeed, they will simply contribute to the culture of violence that the assembly is called to confront.

We ask you to reconsider this decision.

Grace and peace,

Rev. Dr. David Ensign
    Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Rev. abby mohaupt
Bob Ross
    Co-moderators, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship