After Sutherland Springs Mass Shooting
from the Homestead
November 11, 2017
I hope that this letter finds you anticipating worship tomorrow with the same eagerness as I. I look forward to joining my voice with yours in praise of our God-Who-Is-Beautiful, remembering the faithful love of Jesus, and celebrating our empowerment by the Spirit of the living Christ.
This week I have spent time in the company of our Spiritual Care Team and with several individual members of the Missional Logistics Team. We have wondered together what it feels like to return to our worship space after the massacre at a Baptist church in central Texas last Sunday. We know there is fodder for real fear; we know that our celebration of “safe space” feels naïve when no public place is truly safe from the gun-powered rage of broken people. We have considered whether Galileo Church should take measures to “protect ourselves,” although we never arrive at a satisfactory solution that would offer absolute protection from the persistent problem of evil.
So here are some things we propose to do in the wake of Sutherland Springs:
1. We will continue our life together in the spirit of fearlessness that God’s Spirit has granted us, even if it seems naïve. In the face of senseless evil, hope always seems naïve; faith always seems naïve; love always seems naïve. But these are our virtues, embodied in the life and death of the Messiah we follow, vindicated by the Mother/Father of us all in his resurrection, and imbued in us by Jesus’s living Spirit. If we give up our faith, hope, and love, by placing our trust in weaponry and the potential for defensive violence, then we are playing somebody else’s game, telling somebody else’s story of the way the world works. We are committed to the One Story, the one that ends with God Getting Everything God Wants – and toward that end, we are committed to wanting what God wants, and embodying that desire in our habits of life together.
2. We will continue to give corporate voice to lamentation in worship through our prayers, singing, and preaching. Truth-telling about the chronic tragedy of the world’s brokenness is one of Galileo’s prophetic commitments. We will not ask anyone to pretend that “everything’s fine,” or that they are less (or more) affected by recent events than they actually are. We will not pretend that nothing has happened.
3. We will maintain the “no guns at Galileo” policy that the Missional Logistics Team (then the Leadership Team) adopted on January 20, 2016. Shortly after that meeting we posted signage in both English and Spanish at Red’s Roadhouse (which was then our worship space) disallowing both open carry and concealed carry of firearms; and those signs came with us to the Big Red Barn. This feels like a decision we made when we were not afraid; and thus it feels like a decision that should be honored. This means we will not ask or allow Galileo folks who have firearms to bring them to worship, and that we will not employ an armed guard to watch over our worship time.
4. We encourage Galileo worshipers to be familiar with the “run, hide, fight” protocol recommended by the Department of Homeland Security, not only for time spent with Galileo Church, but for time spent in any public place. You can watch videos on YouTube detailing the run-hide-fight strategy, but it’s simple to understand. The very best thing to do if you are endangered in a public space is evacuate. Toward this end, we spent considerable time this week making sure that exits in our worship space are unblocked. And we will continue our weekly process of unlocking available exits on Sunday afternoons, and relocking them when it’s time to go home.
5. We encourage you to seek out a Spiritual Care Team member, a Missional Logistics Team member, or a member of our pastoral staff if you have any questions, concerns, or criticisms; or if you need to process feelings of anxiety or anger related to Sutherland Springs (or Pulse or Las Vegas…); or if you need to express feelings related to this letter. We are ready to hear from you, and listening carefully from a place of deep love.
Co-conspirators and friends of Galileo Church, you are dearly beloved, first and best of all by the God Who imagined you and called you into being, and Who holds your life in God’s own hands. You are also dearly beloved by the servant-leaders who watch over our life together. May your days and nights be flooded with that knowledge; and may “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” our Lord (Philippians 4:7).
grace and peace,
Katie and the Spiritual Care Team (David, Francine, Harmony, Melina, and Travis)
in consultation with individuals from the Missional Logistics Team