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Lake Oswego Reverend Wins AR-15 Rifle in Raffle, Vows to Turn it Into Art

"I kept my fingers crossed and said a prayer," says the Rev. Jeremy Lucas, "and it just so happened that I did win."

Call it divine intervention.

A Lake Oswego reverend last week won the AR-15 rifle that a Portland-area girls' softball team raffled so they could raise money to compete in a California championship tournament.

But the Rev. Jeremy Lucas, from Christ Church Episcopal Parish, says no one will ever fire the gun. With donations from parishioners, Lucas spent $3,000 on 150 tickets.

"I kept my fingers crossed and said a prayer," he says, "and it just so happened that I did win."

Now, finding inspiration from the Book of Isaiah, which calls on worshippers to turn "swords into plowshares," he hopes to work with a local artist to transform the gun into something creative and non-lethal.

"[It's] one small step to reduce the amount of violence in this world," says Lucas.

Lucas says he contacted the coach of the softball team, Ron Brown, and a mother of a player after WW published a story about the raffle on July 11. He let the team know that he wanted to help the girls get to California for the West Regional championship, but he also wanted to stop the raffle.

He didn't know at first that Oregon law makes it illegal to terminate a raffle once it's started. That's when he switched tactics.

Lucas is not the only person in Portland's faith community that wants to work toward an Oregon free of rifle raffles. This isn't the first gun raffle that Oregon has seen. In 2013, a St. Helens girls' softball team raffled off an AR-15 to raise money for their softball league.

The Very Rev. Nathan LeRud, of Northwest Portland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, dedicated his July 17 sermon to the rifle raffle, musing on ways to stop gun violence and bridge the divide in this country over gun ownership.

"What happens," LeRud wondered aloud from the pulpit, "when a group of Episcopal priests suddenly find themselves with a semi-automatic weapon on their hands? What do we do with it? Do we melt it down? Do we now turn swords into plowshares?"

The cathedral volunteered to donate their discretionary funds to Lucas so they could help buy more tickets. Instead, Lucas suggested that the money be put toward a joint effort to curb gun raffles in Oregon.

For now, he's satisfied with a more limited outcome.

"At the end of the day, what we've done is help support a girls' softball team go play in a playoff game in California," says Lucas, "and in addition to that there's one less AR-15 in the world."

Georgia Herr, a representative of the team, told KATU News in an email that she's satisfied, too: "The winner has the right to do whatever he wants with the prize."