Thursday, July 16, 2009

Standing on the Side of Love

July 27 marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at a Knoxville, Tennessee Unitarian Universalist (UU) church that killed Greg McKendry, an usher at Tennessee Valley UU Church, and Linda Kraeger, a member of Westside UU Church. Six others were injured. The entire community was affected.

As July 27th approaches I feel compelled to re-post the post I wrote after learning about the tragidy and to ask you ALL to visit Standing on the Side of Love, a website dedicated to confronting exclusion, oppression and violence based on identity.

Below is my post from July 27th 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

1 comment:

plaidshoes said...

I think about this a lot, too. It really breaks my heart that people can harbor that much hate. I will never understand how they feel taking another life is a "solution". I also feel for all those children who will have these memories for the rest of their lives.

Where in the World?


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