Last summer, the Presbyterian Church USA, a denomination of 1.4 million members, ordained the Rev. Deanna Hollas as its first minister of gun violence prevention, a move considered a first for a Christian denomination in the country.
“In the last 100 days, 10,000 Americans have died from gun violence and 22,000 have been injured,” Rev. Dr. Clay Brantley said when Hollas was ordained on July 7. “Deanna’s call is a sign of the great persistence and wisdom of God.”
“With all the gun violence in our country, it is easy to lose hope and ask: where is God? But I am hopeful,” Hollas said. “I see God raising up so many people and churches to study and speak out and work towards ending the violence that is plaguing our nation. Change is coming. ”
On the weekend of February 7-9, Hollas will come to St. Louis and Webster Groves Presbyterian Church to teach, preach, meet with elected officials and hold a workshop on “How to Have Courageous Conversations about Gun Violence.”
Her itinerary includes:
- A lecture on “unmasking the powers” behind the gun violence issue for students and members of the public in Graham Chapel at Washington University at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, followed by a question and answer session.
- A workshop on how to have civil and productive conversations about guns and gun violence at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, 45 W. Lockwood, on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m., Feb. 8, which is open to the public.
- A private meeting with government officials and legislators
- Sermons during both the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. worship services at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church on February 9, and a presentation during the education hour at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.
In her new role, Hollas is serving as the coordinator of Gun Violence Prevention Ministries for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, a network which includes more than 1,200 individuals, some representing congregations, who will serve as advocates for gun violence prevention.
She sees her role as an encourager, bringing people together to listen, educating churches on the issue, giving them tools to use and challenging them to be active, especially in this election year, working towards the prevention of gun violence and caring for its victims.
The workshop will focus on bridging gaps of misunderstanding so people can begin to talk to one another and work for change, she said.
“We will be sharing our experiences, learning how to listen, to be open, and instead of having a debate, connecting, opening the possibility that something new will arise,” Hollas said.
Hollas holds a Masters of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology and a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theology Seminary. In addition to her work as a Dallas gun violence prevention activist, she is co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX which is a covenant community of spiritual directors.
For information on Webster Groves Presbyterian Church and its Advocacy Team, contact Emmy McClelland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314-962-1796.
For information on the event at Graham Chapel, contact Rev. Max Hill at email@example.com or call 1- 501-940-3864.
Founded 75 years ago, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is a nation-wide community of Presbyterians who act on the nonviolence of Jesus Christ to find alternatives to violence and war. For more information, contact Executive Director Rev. Emily Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.presbypeacefellowship.org.