DALLAS — On Sunday the Rev. Deanna Hollas became the first-known minister of Gun Violence Prevention following a service held at her home church in Dallas.
Sponsored by Grace Presbytery, which includes congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in north and northeastern Texas, the service of ordination was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dallas.
“In the last 100 days, 10,000 Americans have died from gun violence and 22,000 have been injured,” said the preacher for the service, the Rev. Dr. Clay Brantley. “Deanna’s call is a sign of the great persistence and wisdom of God.”
In her new call, Hollas will serve as the Coordinator of Gun Violence Prevention Ministries of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, serving a network of over 800 local Presbyterian gun violence prevention advocates in all 50 states.
“With all the gun violence in our country, it is easy to lose hope and ask: where is God? But I am hopeful,” Hollas said. “I see God raising up so many people and churches to study and speak out and work towards ending the violence that is plaguing our nation. Change is coming.”
Hollas holds a Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology and a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theology Seminary. In addition to her work as a Dallas gun violence prevention activist, she is co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, Texas, a covenant community of spiritual directors. Her husband, Chris Hollas, and children Eleanor, Emily and John joined her at the service.
Presided over by Rev. David Schaefers, the Moderator of Grace Presbytery, and a special ordaining commission, the ordination service included traditional elements such as the serving of communion, the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the participation of Hollas’ Presbyterian parents, Dr. Richard and Sharon Morgan of Plainview, Texas.
At the same time, it also introduced a new hymn about gun violence prevention, “If We Just Talk of Thoughts and Prayers” by Presbyterian pastor and lyricist the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. Representing the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rev. Jan Orr-Harter presented Hollas with an orange stole, the color of the nationwide gun violence prevention movement. The stole included faces of children, a reminder of the lives at stake.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has called on its members to study and engage in dialogue and action on ways to prevent the growing epidemic of gun violence from murders, suicides, accidents, mass shootings and family violence. For over 50 years, the denomination has supported action on concrete measures such as universal background checks, beginning in 1968 following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Gun violence is causing too much grief and sorrow for the church to ignore,” said Rev. Margery Rossi, Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. “I rejoice that God has called Deanna to use her gifts to help us change. Rev. Hollas is, to our knowledge, the first and only clergyperson in the nation ordained to this ministry. She brings vast experience to this work as a spiritual director and a gun violence prevention activist. We look forward to the results that her ‘energy, intelligence, imagination and love’ bring about in the church.”