Gun safety ‘sabbath’ brings conversation over gun violence into religious spaces

The initiative, launched by the Maine Council of Churches, was present in congregations across Maine this weekend.

Author: Donovan Lynch
Published: 8:19 AM EST February 19, 2024
Updated: 8:19 AM EST February 19, 2024

BELFAST, Maine — Across the state this weekend, several churches joined together for a Gun Safety Awareness Sabbath, sponsored by the Maine Council of Churches.

The initiative aimed to raise awareness by distributing information on gun violence to parishioners and starting conversations on the topic following Sunday services.

“Faith and hope and humanity can spread outside the church building,” Dean Anderson, a member of the Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church, said Sunday.

Anderson’s congregation was particularly up-front in its activism, with volunteers distributing leaflets outlining pending bills in the Maine Legislature that seek to tighten current state laws surrounding gun ownership.

“We see problems and we want to take action,” Corlis Davis, who led the awareness campaign in Belfast, said.

The organizer of the Gun Safety Awareness Sabbath, Rev. Jane Field of the Maine Council of Churches, which has taken a stance in favor of stricter gun laws, believes religious spaces of all faiths serve as an essential forum for public discourse surrounding controversial topics like gun control.  

“In our faith communities, those kinds of conversations and deep work together are possible — maybe more possible — than they are in other places in our society,” Field said.