Dear Members and Friends

Many of you no doubt know by now of the tragedy that happened Sunday morning at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church when a gunman killed two church goers. Below is the story as it appeared yesterday on the UUA website (UUA.org). This is your best source to keep updated.

The events of that morning must have been terrifying for the 200 people attending a special children’s production of the musical “Annie.” Heroism also accompanied those moment when the Gunman, Jim Adkisson, opened fire and was shortly subdued by congregants. Greg McKendry, a 60 year-old usher and board member and Linda Kraeger, 61, and member of a neighboring UU church were killed in the attack.

“A tragedy such as this makes us acutely conscious of the beauty and fragility of our lives and those of our loved ones,” UUA President Rev. William Sinkford stated. “I am especially saddened,” he continued, “by this intrusion of violence into a worship service involving children and youth. I know that many people, both in Knoxville and around the country, are struggling with shock and grief right now. I pray that those so affected will find strength and comfort.”

Our congregation can be a source of “strength and comfort” not only to our members and friends, but to those in the Knoxville congregation. Through the UUA the resources of a trained trauma team arrived on Sunday and Rev. Sinkford and others spoke at the service held Monday evening. For those wishing to express their concern by writing or creating cards of sympathy and support we urge you to drop them off at the church so we can bundle them and send them together. Do not send e-mails or call the Knoxville church. They need our love, but not another task of responding to our notes.

Our children may need your special support when they hear of this news. Their cards and notes can be sent to our church office and they will be sent to the children of the Knoxville congregation. We have attached one resource which may be helpful for families. As we have access to more information or more resources for parents, these will be available on the church website. In addition we will make available more UUA which can be attached to this document and on our ucmh web site.

Johanna informs us that in response to this crisis the E-Board will be considering ways we all can make our congregation a safer place and one that has the capacity to respond to crises in our community.

This Sunday, August 3rd, we will use our worship to hold the Knoxville congregation in our thoughts and prayers. Rev. Alice will lead that service where we will gather our thoughts and prayers in this time of tragedy and loss. Reportedly the gunman, Jim Adkisson, was filled with hatred for liberals and our church in Knoxville became the target of his anger. In worship on Sunday we will begin the process of transforming our loss, grief, and anger for what has happened into the positive power of love.

In solidarity and with love, Rev. Stephen and Rev. Alice

P.S. For those wishing to send support to the Knoxville UUs…

Please feel free to post a comment at http://knoxvillesupport.blogspot.com/ .

From July 28 UUA.Org web site (good source to keep you up dated)

A shooting Sunday morning at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) has resulted in the death of a TVUUC member and that of a member of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church (located in Farragut, Tennessee) who was visiting TVUUC for the performance of youth play.

In the wake of this tragedy, Unitarian Universalists are rallying to offer ministry and support to the affected members of both Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Seven adults were also injured but — according to published reports — no children were harmed during the melee. The gunman was tackled by congregants and eventually taken into police custody.

UUA Thomas Jefferson District (TJD) Executive Annette Marquis has arrived in Knoxville to provide support and guidance to the Tennessee Valley and Westside congregations. Two members of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt and Rev. Susan Suchoki Brown, were en route to Knoxville Sunday evening to provide additional support to members of the two congregations directly affected by this tragedy. Retired UU minister Rev. Gordon Gibson was attending the service on Sunday morning when the shootings occurred; Gibson is now among those ministers now providing ministerial support on site for the Tennessee Valley and Westside UU congregations. Other Unitarian Universalist ministers are on the scene as well, working with members of the congregation and offering ministry support at the hospital where the wounded are being treated. Police chaplains have also been dispatched to the hospital.

Sue Sinnamon, TJD Director of Faith Development, will be arriving in Knoxville today; UUA President William G. Sinkford, who released a statement on the tragedy hours after it occurred, will also fly to Knoxville today to offer his personal support to the members of the two Tennessee congregations in this time of crisis.

Information on this page will be updated as additional news is received.

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