Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today's Hero: Greg McKendry

On Sunday July 27th Greg McKendry attempted to stop a lone gunman by stepping in front of his gun, blocking the 25 children performing a play in front of their congregation. The Sunday Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church service had just begun, excited children dressed in costumes stood before their church family smiling, proud parents pushed record buttons on their video cameras but in a matter of moments their whole world would change.

Tragically Mr. McKendry lost his life, but because of his selfless bravery so many others did not. He slowed down a mad man wielding a fire arm, preventing him from doing more harm. Other members of the congregation were able to pin the man to the floor until help arrived.

I'm sorry for posting such a sad and scary story. I just can't stop thinking about it. As the former director of religious education of our UU church, I have lead many a children's play. I have stood proudly before the a packed santuary, introduced an enthusiastic bunch of performers and been filled with joy for the children; sharing their spirit and knowledge with so many. I have shared in their anxiety and joy, whispered forgotten lines to nervous preschoolers, and snapped photos for our church scrap book.

My heart is breaking for the Tennessee families and the innocent children who will be plagued by nightmares for years to come.

There is speculation that this was a hate crime. Implying that the shooter disapproved of the UU church's "liberal values". This is especially painful to read.

This morning I say a prayer for this congregation, for the families who lost a loved one on this tragic day, and for the intolerant who may carry hate inside them, may you find peace.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
~Kathryn Oliver

Montessori Mama


amy turn sharp said...

sitting here crying. I had tried not to think about this too much today. I was so sickened. But, I should think about this and honor this man. Thank you.

MaryD said...

Peace to his family and all those affected by this tragedy. He is a hero.

Pecos Blue said...

I am so sorry about this. What a great man indeed.

Anonymous said...

Our former RE Director serves that church. It has been a great shock to us all. I did receive this description of the vigil via email, which I pass along (I'm sure the writer would not mind, though I have omitted her name):

From someone in the Knoxville church to her brother in New England:

... The candlelight vigil was amazing and heartfelt. The sky opened up into a huge rain storm as people were coming. But they kept coming and coming. As we walked to our neighboring Second Presbyterian Church, we looked over Kingston Pike, the road in front of both the churches. They were lined up for as far as I could see with their blinkers on to turn into all the church parking lots around to come join in the vigil.

There was so much support, unity and caring from everywhere. Many different ministers spoke and Rev. William Sinkford, President of the UUA was wonderful sharing how Boston and the Boston area was holding vigils at the same time. There were tears and hugs often.

Then all the lights were dimmed and the candles were lit for the hurt and those who died. With all the candles shining, the children's cast of Annie walked out together and broke into the chorus of Annie's *Tommorrow,* holding hands their hands clutched together high. Bright sparkly kids' faces. All the candles went up over our heads and we swayed to the music as they sang, and we sang.

It's was nice to hear the words of *Tomorrow* at this vigil tonight.

The sun will come out Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinking about Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs
And the sorrow, Til their's none!

When I'm stuck in a day that's gray and lonely
I just stick out my chin and grin, and say--

The sun will come out Tomorrow
So you gotta hang on 'Til tomorrow
Come with me
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow
You're always a day away

Christie said...

I heard about this yesterday. It makes me sick. Greg was truly a hero. So so sad these children have to live with this nightmare.

Shannon said...

i too can't get it out of my mind. thank you for posting on it, i cannot seem to make the words come out . . .

Anonymous said...

this church is not 10 minutes from our apartment in knoxville. we just moved from there on the 19th of july.

he was a real hero. it's so sad.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jennifer! I just wanted to tell you that I've nominated your blog for an award over at my blog. You were one of my first blog inspirations. Thanks for all your insight and encouragement.

Ruth said...

Your's is one of my bookmarked Montessori/Mom/Craft blogs that I check periodically. I was reading along, enjoying your idea for the concept books and beautiful cut paper artwork, when this post froze me in my seat and brought me to tears.

Having moved from Knoxville to Kansas City last year, I've spent a lot of time missing my hometown and, more recently, mourning the tragedy at TVUUC. Although I was never officially a member, this was the church I attended more than any other in town.

For me, your blog is a regular source of comfort and relief from the isolation of being in a new city with a young family, and I am so touched that it is also a source of love and hope for such a sad situation. Thank You!

Jennifer Howard said...

Thank you to everyone who read this and posted or didn't, a comment. I appreciate your words and thoughts.

Where in the World?


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