It is time.
People from different parts of Tacoma gathered at Immanuel Presbyterian Church Tuesday night for a quiet service of remembrance. There were no speeches or sermons, just silence, chants and readings. It was a gentle time for reflection and shared grief.
Like other faith communities, ours was hit hard by the events in Connecticut. Newtown’s shootings brought back raw memories of the October murder of church member and friend Rob Meline by a son who struggled with mental illness.
A service of quiet prayer and meditation was appropriate Tuesday. But it is time to do more. It is time to begin a citywide conversation that leads to an active strategy to address questions about how we deal with those whose mental illness can lead them to violence and how we help families act in ways that are both loving and keep them safe.
Joined with this concern are questions about guns in our society and the role of violence in our culture, media and even language. We need to address both sets of questions with strategies that keep our families and community safe.
Too many tears have been shed. I have no clear strategy but need to find a way forward and invite Tacoma-Pierce County faith leaders to think with me about this. Beyond communities of faith might it be time for the city to initiate some communitywide dialogue about mental illness, violence and guns.
It is time
(Brown is pastor at Immanuel Presbyterian Church.)