Thursday, July 31, 2008

Covenanting with Knoxville

Last Sunday morning, during a service that included a performance of "Annie, Jr." at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC), a shooter opened fire at the front row of the people in the Sanctuary watching the performance, killing two and severely wounding 6 more. For the past four days hundreds of UU congregations across the United States (as well as other churches) have mourned with the families in Knoxville, holding vigils and special services, aware that we too could be targets because of our "liberal beliefs".

UUA President Bill Sinkford was there by Sunday evening, along with two members of the UUA Trauma team and UUA staffers to help deal with the publicity that inevitably follows tragedy. Two former UUA presidents, John Buehrens and Robert West, had served TVUUC as ministers, but there is no doubt that any congregation going through such a painful experience would have the same kind of support.

A very moving service was held Monday night with members of many different faiths next door at the Second Presbyterian Church that had sheltered people the day before, ending with the cast of the play performing the well known "Tomorrow" at the end. I wept listening to the voices, many of them children, joined by the entire interfaith body on the second verse.

France's Le Monde newspaper declared "We Are All Americans" on September 12, 2001. This week we have all been members of the 4 Knoxville congregations that were together on July 27, and experienced this tragedy. We share your grief - and your hope for tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at that service ; it was the most emotionally moving mement of my life. Second Presbyterian normally seats 500-600; that evening there were well over 1,000 people present. People were standing along the walls, sitting on the floor, and sitting on the steps to the stage.