Bishops Dean E. Wolfe, Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, and Michael P Milliken, Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas have issued a directive requiring that firearms be prohibited from Episcopal churches in that state, as far as the law allows.
In a letter to Clergy and Wardens of both dioceses, the bishops state,
Over the last several years, a series of radical changes in firearms laws in the State of Kansas has led to permission being given to carry firearms, openly or concealed, into churches and other houses of worship. These changes reverse long-standing law and practice regarding firearms in our state. These changes reflect the efforts of an active gun manufacturers’ lobby, and in our judgment, they unnecessarily endanger the citizens of our state and the members of our parishes.
Under these laws, firearms can be prohibited from churches when the ecclesiastical authority expressly prohibits their presence and erects signage making clear such prohibition. Together we are making that clear judgement through this directive today.
For Episcopalians, the Bible serves as a trustworthy guide for our beliefs and practices. The prophets clearly saw the ultimate purpose and goal of God’s creating and saving work: “they will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11: 9). God became human in Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed the Prince of Peace. The Apostle Paul embodied the spirit of Jesus when he urged Christians to never “repay anyone evil for evil” (Romans 12: 17). Paul understood Christ as the new Adam, the pioneer of God’s peaceful future reign. As Christ’s body, the Church and all its members belong to the coming Kingdom. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we demonstrate God’s generous, nonviolent intent for all creatures. We even call the space we use for our worship “a sanctuary.”
Effective August 1, 2016, the carrying of firearms will formally be prohibited in all church facilities in the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas, except as carried by designated law enforcement officials in the line of duty.
Offering signs and stickers for churches to affix to external doors to comply with requirements to prohibit firearms from the premises, the bishops conclude,
While this directive and the enclosed signs will meet the requirements of state law, we hope all the more it will serve as a testament to the promised future reign of Christ in which “no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love.”
Read the joint press release here.