Even before the Las Vegas shooting, this church was working to stem gun violence

The dialogue about gun control is an ongoing one in this nation. And long before the mass shooting at the country music festival in Las Vegas, one Raleigh church congregation had formed a work group to study gun violence and seek solutions.

Members of Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church formed the group not to eliminate guns, but to help stem gun violence and encourage peace.

“We had become concerned not just about high profile mass shootings but the slow, steady trickle of individual gun deaths in our community.” said Rev. Diane Knauf, associate pastor at Saint Andrews. “We view this issue through the lens of faith, seeing it not so much as a political issue but as a moral and spiritual one.”

The study group has spent the past year looking at the causes and the impact of gun violence. And on Thursday, October 12, the group will host an event at Saint Andrews called “Responding to Gun Violence: What People of Faith Can Do.”

Presenters will include Jessica Brueggeman, who will offer a perspective on gun violence through the lens of public health. Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians against Gun Violence, will talk about how different groups can come together to end gun violence.

NCGV is a non-profit dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries from guns. Rev. Byron Wade, of Davie Street Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh, will offer a faith perspective on gun violence. He’s a board member with NCGV. After the presentations, there will a question and answer session as well as additional time for dialogue.

The event was planned before the Las Vegas shootings. Participants will pause in prayer to remember the lives lost at the festival as well as all victims of gun violence.

“Beyond that, this latest tragedy will not impact the program for that night, because our gun violence prevention group is equally as concerned with the slow, steady drumbeat of deaths that occur daily in our neighborhoods and communities due to gun violence,” Knauf said. “We feel there is real work to be done in the areas of reducing suicides by guns, instances of gun violence in domestic situations, accidental shootings that come from poor gun safety habits and murders committed with guns daily. We are hopeful that increasing awareness and working for changes locally will positively impact our community and be a first but very important step to decreasing gun violence nationwide.”

Carla Turchetti compiles events for Faith in Focus each week. You can reach her at


What: Responding to Gun Violence: What People of Faith Can Do

When: 7 p.m., Oct. 12

Where: Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 7506 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh

RSVP: Church office: 919-847-1913