The Rev. Sandy Brown, Janey Smith (left), and Bonnie Walker are just a few of the United Methodists who joined with other local citizens in taking a stand during Stand Up Washington march.
Photos: “Stand Up Washington: A march to end gun violence”

We can stop gun violence | By Jesse N. Love

Seattle march unites local community leaders, interfaith communities to support victims and to end gun violence.

“This is the calm before the storm. We expect a several thousand people. We’re bringing awareness,” explains Ralph Fascitelli.

On a brisk Sunday afternoon, Fascitelli is speaking with a KOMO 4 cameraman atop a concrete stage in Seattle’s Westlake Park. Fascitelli is the President of the Board for Washington CeaseFire – a grassroots organization dedicated to reducing gun violence.

Several hundred people began filling the Park early to participate in Stand Up Washington – a march and rally for gun control and to remember victims of gun violence. The event was held on Jan. 13, 2013.  Older adults, young adults, and children arrived to support a movement toward sensible gun control and overall peace.

Over the last few months in the US, several incidences involving shootings in school campuses – and in particular the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. – have all brought the debate of gun control into the forefront of real world and online conversation. Stand Up Washington’s march was an opportunity for people to take a stand and have their voices heard, including United Methodists.

“There is just too much violence happening in our country; I’m just really against it,” shares Jacqueline Putt of First United Methodist Church in Seattle. “I’m out here to show some support for coming up with legislation and gun control,” she shares. Putt along with members of First Church wrote letters to the president and members of congress to support stricter gun control laws.

“I remember watching news coverage 17 years ago; I was teaching at Moses Lake and one of our teachers was killed at Frontier Middle School (Moses Lake, Wash.) along with two children,” says Janey Smith, a member of Des Moines UMC and a resident of Wesley Homes. Smith refers to the 1996 shooting of three people by then 14-year old student Barry Dale Loukaitis. Smith says she and her friends at Wesley have been in contact with the local Methodist Pastor Mel Kawakami in Connecticut. She hopes to visit and help summer camp programs with children and families.

Bonnie Walker is a member of Haller Lake UMC and Barbara Moreland is a member of First UMC, both in Seattle. Walker and Moreland heard about the march through their local church. “We were talking about it in our meetings at Haller Lake. We received word from the Church Council of Greater Seattle by e-mail. Since the march is in line with our beliefs, we wanted to be a part of it,” Walker explains. “The more noise we make – the more we can say we’ve had enough, the greater chance of being heard. As a participant, we just spread the word and people showed up for this. Probably at least 50 (United Methodists) are here,” Moreland shares.

The Rev. Sanford “Sandy” Brown is the pastor of First UMC in Seattle. “Churches need to lead the conversation about the relationship between gun ownership and Jesus’ teachings of non-violence. We have to be careful not to get stuck with the notion ‘because the Second Amendment supports gun ownership it must be right.’ That’s a culturally-driven idea, not a Jesus idea,” Brown shares. When asked how church communities can bridge the two opposing sides in the debate over gun control, he shares, “I think churches can invite the conversation inside our walls by hosting panel discussions and including people who disagree with the Christian stance. We can’t limit ourselves to conversation, though. We also need to stand up and support appropriate gun control legislation as a faithful response to the Gospel.”

Audio: “The Rev. Sandy Brown speaks at Stand Up Washington”

At the end of the march, Brown presented a closing message saying “Yes we can” to safer schools, sensible gun laws, and overcoming a culture of darkness with the power of love and a path towards peace. Communities in Washington continue to work towards change surrounding the status quo of gun control in Washington.

Learn more:
Washington CeaseFire | Faith Action Network | Church Council of Greater Seattle

Jesse N. Love serves as the print & publications manager for the PNWUMC.
The full version of this story will be featured in the February issue of Channels, coming soon.


  1. Violence is a serious problem in our society that has largely been ignored because it always happened in someone else’s neighborhood, but never in “ours”.

    Gangs, drug lords, and crazy people didn’t penetrate our safe schools and movie theaters until now? For some, they were always there and nothing has changed. Creating a “no guns allowed” sign in the ghetto is as useful as putting up a “no crossing” sign at the Mexican-US border. Bad and desperate people do not follow rules.

    Gun owners, the responsible kind, have also existed. They know existing laws. Keeping their guns locked, ammunition in separate locked compartments…law-abiding citizens will agree that violence needs to end. Good and educated people follow rules.

    I applaud your article for calling attention to the need for gun violence to end; however, the answer does not lie in asking the government to make another law and lump the gun owners with desperates and crazies.

    I like how you say that we need to “overcome a culture of darkness”. Why does our society glorify violence in movies, music, and TV? We allow the TV to babysit our kids who see violence as normal and wonder why they would shoot each other. We don’t talk to each other, our neighbors, because we don’t want to intrude, so no one knew that “little Billy” had mental health issues until they found his dead body.

    Before you ask bureaucrats to make another rule, please take a look at the cause of “darkness”. If guns kill people, knives kill people, and spoons make people fat. What is the cause…and what is sensible…Would it make sense to outlaw cars because car accidents kill too? What causes someone to kill?

    Before pointing fingers at gun owners, take a look at your own contribution to a society in darkness. Have you or your kids listened to gangsta rap, played Grand Theft Auto, or watched any Die Hard movie? And why? Unfortunately, most of us are guilty in one way or another. We are a society that has grown accustomed to violence. We are romanced by on-screen violence, just as long as it’s not “real”. The problem is bad people don’t care and crazy people don’t understand reality. Our society loves violence so much that we have rendered it harmless to the masses. Now, we finally see it’s harmful. We are not in touch… Life does imitate art. So, before going on a witchhunt after gun owners or any other particular “group”, other than murderers, maybe you should check your kid’s iPod. Are you a contributor to the romance of violence?

    I am opposed to all violence, not just the gun kind, but I would not outlaw cars, knives, or large boulders. Thank you for reading.

  2. Sheryl C., thanks for sharing your post. The conversation needs to continue for sure. My concern is as time passes and the next issue that takes the headlines shadows what we have left unresolved – will we have solved or at least did our best to solve the problems we have? Thanks again for your post. -JNL

  3. I agree with Sheryl C. IMHO, creating another law or policy against guns is not currently the real answer. Her examples were spot on. Education and appreciation of life needs to be the focus.
    Educate the young to respect themselves and others. When a child is experiencing emotion (happy, sad, excited, angry, etc.) ask them about what made them feel that way. Give other examples of those feelings. Teach them about these emotional experiences. When they know what triggers their own emotions, they can learn that those same events can trigger similar emotions for others.
    Appreciate the life you have and others lives. Focus on those that are positive in your life and learn to avoid experiencing more negativity.
    I admit to being one that has grown up listening to gangsta rap, watching violent films, going to shooting ranges, playing with nerf and bb guns, playing laser tag, engulfed by WWII movies, intrigued by history of conquerors of modern civilizations, star wars, etc. But I also enjoy life, I would love family and friends, watching movies, eating great food, etc. I would never want to take any of those away from myself. Because I know I don’t want to lose that, I respect others to not take that away either. I would not like to take their lives away.

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