I just attended a candlelight service at Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. The minister, Jacqueline, and I are good friends. Our two congregations have a great deal in common. We encourage freethinking and inclusivity. The two congregations are co-hosting Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow in September. I participated in Jacqueline's installation service. Chris Buice, the minister at TVUUC, was at her installation too. He offered the children's sermon.
Jacqueline was in Knoxville today, in the hospital, praying with, listening to, and comforting the victims and their families. I didn't know any of the folks at TVUUC. Many of those at Holston Valley did know them. The UU world is fairly close knit. You can literally count the number of UU churches in East Tennessee on one hand. Some had attended the TVUUC and knew it quite well. They spoke lovingly of it. It is a church that opens its arms to all people.
This kind of violence is difficult to comprehend. Perhaps it is beyond comprehension. As of this post, the motive of the shooter is not known. I almost wish I don't find out his motive. I am afraid of what it might be. Some of us have added a good measure of fear to our grief today.
Jacqueline told me that Second Presbyterian of Knoxville (the church next door to TVUUC) was where the children found sanctuary during the shooting. I am grateful for that. I am confident the Presbyterians (and others) will keep the care coming. UU churches often are kept at arm's length by other Christian churches. Now is the time to embrace.
At the candlelight service this evening, we prayed in silence and in song for the victims, for their loved ones, for all the churches, and for the shooter and his family. The UUs are a pretty special kind of people.
I am a Presbyterian. And today, I am a Unitarian Universalist.