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Prayers and Messages from International and Interfaith Communities Follow Shootings in Knoxville
Following the fatal shooting of two and wounding of seven at a Knoxville Unitarian Universalist (UU) church on July 27, prayers have been received from international and interfaith communities. This page will be updated frequently to reflect recent additions.
(September 3, 2008)
From the International Association for Religious Freedom - Dutch Chapter
Dear UUA Friends,
The Dutch Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom was informed about the shooting-disaster in Knoxville.
We all are shocked and sincerely do express our sympathy.
At our next meeting on the 26th of September we will observe a moment's silence for meditation, to express our respect and concern to the wounded and those in grief.
May peace be in their hearts.
May all be Blessed,
Secretary of IARF
(July 30, 2008)
From the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, Melbourne, Australia
On behalf of the congregation and friends of the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church we wish to pass on our condolences and support to the UU's in Knoxville. Our thoughts are with you from the other side of the Pacific.
(July 30, 2008)
From Religions for Peace - USA
Dear Dr. Sinkford:
On behalf of the Religions for Peace - USA family I am writing to express our deepest and heartfelt condolences at the recent shootings in the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. We heard with shock and grief the news of the shooting and pray for those killed and injured and their families. Please know that during this time of tragedy we stand with you in grief and pray for healing. Kind regards,
Dr. Tarunjit S. Butalia
Religions for Peace - USA
(July 30, 2008)
From Rabbi Arthur Waskow—the Shalom Center
Dear UU folks (w/cc’s to other religious activists),
I am writing in sorrow and shock to add my and The Shalom Center's concern and condolences for the dead and the wounded and their families and the whole UU community who have suffered the attack in Knoxville.
The effects of these murders on the human beings directly involved is, of course, itself terrible. And in addition, once we realized this was an explicit and deliberate attack on all liberal, progressive, and prophetic religious life, it became clear that we owe our concern not only for those directly affected but for our country and for the world, so deeply scarred by fanaticism and violence in the name of religion. No religious tradition is immune from this perversion of its message, and no religious community is immune from the terrible damage that results.
I send you blessings that the courage and perseverance in God's work of peace and justice that I know you already feel will be strengthened by the outpouring of shared sorrow, spiritual solidarity, and determination that I know surrounds you now.
Please feel free to share this note with those in the UU community with whom I have worked and prayed over the years, but whose addresses I don’t have.
Shalom, salaam, peace—
(Rabbi Arthur Waskow)
(July 29, 2008)
From the Australia/New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association
Dear Rev Chris Buice and members of the TVUUC.
The UU hearts across Australia and New Zealand sank when they heard the news of the tragedy in Knoxville. We find it hard to comprehend such an act of mindless, hateful violence.
But through the grief, sorrow and anger emerges a message of tremendous courage – not only the courage of Glen McKendry and the others who disarmed the gunman, but also the courage of the TVUUC in holding true to their liberal religious values in a hostile environment. We applaud such courage and are proud to be part of a religious community that includes the TVUUC.
This Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. Sunday local time) chalices throughout Australasia will be lit in honour and sympathy with you all at this time of mourning. May the thoughts and prayers offered at this time make their way to your hearts.
Australia New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association.
From the Canadian Unitarian Council
The Canadian Unitarian Council is inviting congregations across Canada to light the chalice on Sunday morning, August 3, for our friends in Knoxville.
Rev. Carole Martignacco, president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada, offers this Chalice-Lighting:
A Spiritual Home
As a spiritual home is a sanctuary, a safe space
for the gathering of the beloved community,
we light this chalice, symbol of our free faith,
In solidarity with brothers and sisters all over the world
who mourn with the Knoxville community last week's tragic events,
the violation of their sanctuary and the loss of precious lives.
We light this chalice in honour of the courage and goodness
of those who in every age, mindless of the cost to themselves,
are moved to shield others from acts of violence.
May this flame burn in our hearts today to warm us
and remind us that our greatest security lies in our choice
to answer hate with the all-consuming power of love.
(July 28, 2008)
From the United Church of Christ's National Youth Event
The following prayer was written and delivered by a participant at the United Church of Christ's National Youth Event in Knoxville, July 27, 2008.
O God of Peace and Love,
You have been with us on this journey of growth, discovery, and reflection. We are amazed at the signs that you have given to us to show us the way to a better life of love, creation, and harmony. We confess that we all have faults, differences, and doubts. As your children we ask for your forgiveness and guidance to heal our brokenness. We are entering into a period of mourning for the victims of the shootings this morning at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. We ask for your comfort and the strength of your love for the victims, the shooter, and their loved ones. As a generation that has been confronted by 9/11, the shootings at others schools and colleges, as well as war, we trust in your power and wisdom to lead us to create a world of peace and wholeness. We leave here inspired, and ready to love. In your name we pray. Amen.
Little River United Church of Christ
UCC General Minister and President John Thomas reports that the prayer was followed by the lighting of a candle, and silence. On the campus of the University of Tennessee is a large rock painted frequently by students with various messages. Also on July 27, some of the UCC youth from California bought paint and covered the rock with a message of care and solidarity for the Unitarian Universalist congregation. The photograph of this message served as the backdrop on the large screen during the UCC communion service.
From the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
From Rev. Steve Dick, Chief Executive
Essex Hall, 1-6 Essex Street, London WC2R 3HY
To Rev Christopher Buice and the congregation of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church:
I write on behalf of Unitarians in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to express our sadness and concern at the tragic events that occurred yesterday at your church.
There is no meaning or sense to such disturbing events and one is left with conflicted feelings of anger and dismay.
The only thing to hold on to, in the midst of such an experience and the aftermath, is that we can hold on to each other and affirm the web of love and compassion that unifies us even in such dark moments.
It is especially disturbing that this disturbing and dehumanising act occurred in the midst of an act of worship which deserves to be a safe and life-affirming occasion.
We all have too much experience of violence and know it is not some abstract concept but a dehabilitating disease that has here tragically resulted in loss of life.
Know that we will join people everywhere in holding you all in our thoughts and prayers believing that the spiritual love and energy we can send towards Knoxville may be of some solace and support to you now and in the days ahead.
From the Unitarian Union of Northeast India
Dear Rev. Sinkford,
The Unitarian Union of North East India is deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless and horrendous killing of two members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, and wounding many others.
Such cowardly act of crime committed inside a sanctuary deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms.In this hour of grief we the members of the Unitarian Union of North East India share the losses of the two families and our hearts and prayers go out to all who are affected by this gruesome incident.
The Officers of the Unitarian Union of North East India, in a telephonic condolence meeting, expressed their sorrow and grief on the passing of the two members of the Church and send their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. We pray to God to grant them strength and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss,and to give a healing touch to those injured.
United in grief,
Rev. Derrick P.Pariat
From the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Dear Fellow UU's:
On behalf of the Executive and all the national groups represented at the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, I am writing to offer my deepest condolences in the wake of the Tennessee Valley tragedy.
We are shocked an outraged at the violence and violation committed in the sanctity of your church home, a place meant to be a safe haven. More importantly, we are deeply saddened by the loss of life, and the physical and emotional injury this terrible act has brought into your community.
We pray for you and with you in this time of trial. We pray that you will find the strength necessary to survive and rise above this crisis. We hope that your community is able to come together and be the source of strength it has always been for you and that this sad event will help bring you even closer through shared grief and shared healing.
The thoughts of Unitarians and Universalists the world over are with you in this tragic time.
Rev. Brian J. Kiely