- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - A Battle Creek pastor has been hanging photographs of deceased victims of this year’s U.S. mass shootings on the walls of his church.

The Rev. Brian Coleman of St. Thomas Episcopal Church told the Battle Creek Enquirer (https://bcene.ws/2adaBpz ) that he has printed photos of those killed in mass shootings since February, when a man allegedly went on a shooting rampage in between picking up riders for Uber in Kalamazoo. Six people died.

The wall represents a form of accountability as the national debate on gun violence increases, Coleman said.

By June, more than 200 photos hung in the church, 49 of which were of victims killed at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Florida. Most recently, he added the five police officers fatally shot in Dallas.

“I’m sure there are people in the congregation who wish I hadn’t started this,” Coleman said.

Some church members initially disapproved of hanging the photos. However, Coleman said more have started to be in favor of the walls after more mass shootings have occurred and after hearing him preach about why he feels it’s an important issue.

“I stepped into the sanctuary initially, it felt like a place of death, which is not what our church is about,” said Mary Bourgeois, 57. “But Father’s sermon today was about recognizing and reaching out to all of our neighbors and that was exactly what I needed to hear.”

Noreen Sidnam, 73, said she feels a connection to the people who’ve died after seeing their photos on Sundays.

“I was very moved that someone would care enough to bring those things to the forefront of our minds,” Sidnam said. “It’s so easy, if it’s not right here, you forget.”

Coleman said the church will continue to hang photos of victims of mass shootings, when four or more people at a time die, through the end of the year.


Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer, https://www.battlecreekenquirer.com

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