by Cassandra Deck-Brown

Over the past several years, communities have faced realities that would have proven difficult to imagine even if one was significantly paid to write such unimaginable scripts. And each time we hear of a different news story involving someone else who has been shot, injured or killed, it changes individuals, families, communities and our nation – none of us are ever the same after we hear, or see traumatic events.  We don’t forget what we hear, see, or read about.  As these violent events continue to happen during our lifetime, they also empower individuals and institutions alike to evaluate what can be done to impact the negative experiences that our communities are having to deal with. One key entity that took a tremendous stance to evaluate and shed some light on the issue of gun violence was the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.  That’s right! It was our Episcopal Diocese that took a radical leap of faith with very focused and intentional steps to address gun violence.

During the Summer of June 2022, the Diocese convened a task force comprised of both clergy, and lay individuals who each – affiliated with a different episcopal church within the Diocese, brought a unique set of skills, expertise, lived experiences, and a desire to affect change with the support of the Diocese. The scope of the work, and the energy born out of the task force was and still is, focused on issues related to gun violence prevention and taking action where and when the Diocese of North Carolina might affect change, either in a leadership role or in partnership with others.  This dedicated team of individuals is nearing its second year of unique service work to introduce and make available various resources to be shared throughout the diocesan community and beyond. In a letter signed by both Bishops, the Rt. Reverend, Sam Rodman (Bishop) and the Rt. Reverend, Anne Hodges-Copple (Suffragan), and shared with all congregants, they stated, “But as the faithful of the Diocese of North Carolina have demonstrated again and again, it is work we are willing to do. It is work we will do together as we live into the promise and power of nonviolence and love embodied in Jesus’ life and teaching.”[1] The task force meets monthly and the work involves all active participants, including our current Bishops.

Since its inception, the task force’s level of engagement has ranged from participating in various meetings with lawmakers on Advocacy Days to discuss pending and current legislation and program funding to serving as panelists on webinar discussions, and establishing platforms to participate in activities that promote gun violence prevention, intervention, and awareness. Their efforts have established collaborative partnerships to promote safe and responsible gun ownership; and provided a foundation for viable information and resources that can be found on the Diocesan website.  These resources include information about gun legislation, various forms of literature and “must reads” including articles, books, and newsletters, along with media-based resources – videos, documentaries, and podcasts that serve to inform the “Beloved Community” with thought-provoking resources. The task force regularly updates the website with new updated material and practical information for anyone to review and take part in affecting change to actively safeguard themselves and others. They have had an active presence for two years at the Annual Convention.

As many may know the month of June is Gun Violence Prevention Month. Yet, we also know that gun violence happens daily.  According to Johns Hopkins University, their statistics for 2021 noted an average of one death occurs every 11 minutes in the United States.[2] This number does not include those who were shot and survived their injuries; nor does it include those who were shot at but not physically injured; and nor does it account for the ones who witnessed the firearm violence.

Too often, we have seen residual effects of gun violence either personally, via social media, or the 30 second sound bite on the evening news.  It affects us all and many have asked, “What can we do to make a difference?” This year, each of us is asked to participate in some way – great or small- to promote awareness – that’s right! As we at Saint Ambrose do our collective efforts each Sunday throughout the month of June to make a difference, each of us is asked to carry that torch a little further and allow it to burn just a little brighter beyond the doors of the church. Please take a moment and consider the possibilities of what you can do on an individual basis to further promote awareness around gun violence prevention. Though not limited to this list, here are a few suggestions:


  • Visit the diocesan website: The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina | Episcopal Church NC (
    • Click the Ministries Tab and Scroll down to the Gun Violence Prevention Tab.
  • Wear orange throughout the month of June.
  • Start meaningful conversations about topics concerning gun violence, gun legislation, gun ownership, gun storage, etc.
  • Safely store your firearm and encourage others to do the same. If you need a gun lock, please let us know.
  • Encourage others to do their part to promote awareness gun violence prevention.
  • Participate in future Advocacy Days and be heard before your legislative officials.
  • Encourage and assist those experiencing mental health, substance use crises, or thoughts of suicide to seek help. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is 988.
  • SAY SOMETHING if you see the potential for gun violence.
  • Be sure to remove your firearm from your vehicle and encourage others to do the same –

glove compartments or consoles are not safe storage locations.

  • Consider burning an orange lightbulb on your porch during the month of June.
  • If you have a firearm or one has been left by a loved one’s estate and you are unsure about what to do with it, contact your local law enforcement agency and they will assist you in removing that firearm from your residence.

In closing, during our most recent June meeting, Bishop Rodman began the meeting by praying for God’s Peace to be the premise for the work that the task force continues to do through education, prevention and awareness of gun violence.   Remember, we each have a role to play to usher in God’s Peace. What part will you play?

By Cassandra Deck-Brown (Task Force Member)

[1]pastoral-letter-june-2022_947.pdf (

[2] Firearm Violence in the United States | Center for Gun Violence Solutions (