Episcopal church in Breckenridge does weekly prayer against gun violence
Every Wednesday until Nov. 2, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge will fill the air with the crisp peal of 49 rings from its church bells.
St. John is joining several congregations from the Diocese of Colorado in the project, which is meant to draw people’s attention to gun violence happening throughout the United States and across the world. Each of the 49 rings are meant to symbolize one person who died in the June 12 attack at a nightclub in Orlando.
Rev. Robert Franken from St. John said that traditionally the bells have drawn attention to important things happening within the community. The bells ring at 1 p.m. The church chose that time in the hopes that people would hear it on the way back from lunch hour.
“There is a national crisis happening with guns. Police officers are dying and citizens are dying, sometimes through mass shootings, sometimes through one-on-one shootings, but the number of times that somebody dies where one party has a gun and the other doesn’t, is frightening,” Franken said.
Along with the bells there will be a special prayer. The prayer is read before the ringing the bells. Franken said that the church is not taking sides. For them, it is not about being pro- or anti-gun laws. It is about the life that was taken.
“If we really believe what we say we believe, ‘that every person is a child of God,’ then when children of God are dying in the streets in this country, somebody ought to say something. That one child is too many,” Franken said.
Franken said that the church encouraged its members to set an alarm on their phones and other mobile devices as well, saying, “It’s not just a call to the community, it’s a call to ourselves.” For him, it’s a reminder to take a moment to stop and pray.
Members of the church are also invited to ring the bells during these special sermons. John and Kathy Landon rang the bells on Sept. 28.
“I truly believe in praying for those who lost their lives and their families, and trying to make our community aware of praying for nonviolent use of guns,” Kathy said.
Kathy and her husband moved to Summit County full time in 2013, they have been attending St. John’s ever since. While this is the first time they have participated in a project like this one, Kathy said they enjoy the community outreach that the church does on a regular basis.
“There’s a spirit there that is just hard to capture, but you just feel it when you enter those doors,” she said.
Rev. Susan Springer, from the St. John Episcopal Church in Boulder, initiated the project.
“After each mass shooting we, like many other Americans, are outraged and deeply saddened. We pray. In time, the shock of the incident diminishes. The demands of our own lives intervene and draw our attention elsewhere — until the next tragic incident occurs. We find ourselves praying that each incident will be the last, and yet they continue,” the Episcopal Church in Colorado wrote on their website in reference to the project. The organization is encouraging all Episcopal churches in Colorado to participate.
Although Franken retired as an ordained deacon in 2013, he still works with the church and will occasionally give sermons. But this particular project is important to Franken.
“I’m retired, I’m not dead,” he said quietly. “It was important because it needed to be done, and sometimes you just feel called to do something.”
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