This is the joint letter that was send out in response to the recent shootings in TN.  You can get the official press denominational press release in PDF form [HERE]. 

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July 29, 2008

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This past Sunday morning, the enthusiasm and joy that surrounded a children’s production at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) in Knoxville, Tenn., were shattered by the horror of shotgun blasts. Eight people were wounded or injured, two of them fatally.

The overwhelming response of support from congregations in Knoxville has been a strong example of the visible unity of Christ’s church. Second Presbyterian Church, located next to TVUUC, was a refuge for children running for safety in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, as well as a host of a candlelight service that same evening. First Baptist Church held a community prayer service earlier today. No doubt, countless more opportunities for ministry to TVUUC congregation and to everyone affected by this brutal violence will be made available, and we who watch from a distance are grateful for such generous acts of kindness and presence.

We are writing to ask that you continue to pray for the victims of the shootings – for the families of those who were killed and those who survived; for those who witnessed the violence, especially the children; for the pastoral leadership of TVUUC; for the pastors and members of neighboring and area congregations, as well as all caregivers who are ambassadors of God’s grace; and for those who feel compelled to resort to violence in the midst of their anger.

While we have no answers for why these senseless acts happen – anytime, but especially in a church sanctuary – we do profess our strong faith that, even in this terrible circumstance, God’s sure and certain hand holds all of us securely.

From the apostle Paul, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God the Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 2:16).

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director, General Assembly Council

Bruce Reyes-Chow
Moderator, 218th General Assembly (2008)   

Byron Wade
Vice-Moderator, 218th General Assembly (2008)   

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