Massachusetts church puts up Christmas nativity scene with list of mass shootings

A church in Dedham, Massachusetts, is making headlines after it put up a Christmas nativity scene that included a list of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States in a bid to get people to do something to stop these attacks.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / John Phelan)First Church and Parish, Dedham Massachusetts. 12 August 2007.

Instead of setting up the usual image of baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for its nativity scene this year, St. Susanna's Parish has chosen to make a bold statement by adding a list of the country's deadliest mass shootings. Father Stephen Josoma explained that their unusual display should serve as a reminder that gun violence happens in the unlikeliest places and that people should be spurred into action to stop this, Fox 25 Boston detailed.

"There's cities, nursing homes, coffee shops, military installations, churches, theaters," said Father Josoma. "This is not the picture of Christmas peace we want to have in people's minds for years to come. It can't be this forever, it just has to change."

Pat Ferrone, one of the parishioners who saw the nativity scene over the weekend, said the list was added to make the public think. Lisa Mercuri, on the other hand, felt sad while seeing the display and hoped that nothing more would be added to the list.

While St. Susanna's Parish is doing something to encourage people to work for peace instead of simply sitting in the sidelines, other churches are preparing their congregants for possible mass shooting incidents. In the wake of last month's shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called on the public to arm some of their members so that they would be equipped in case another similar incident comes up, Religion News Service relayed.

Around 80 people from Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana assembled at the Prairie Baptist Church in Scotts to attend church security training facilitated by Strategos. Although the ministry has instructed more than 20,000 leaders in the last decade, the Texas church shooting led to Strategos' schedule becoming full since the need for intruder awareness and response training for church staff grew.

Barry Young, the facilitator, said the Texas church shooting "isn't new." He also emphasized the need to get church leaders together and train them on what to do when dealing with armed intruders. He then mentioned that the American church also had to change in response to the horrific mass shootings.