Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Hope, Courage, Compassion, Love, Faith.

I know that there is currently a lot of anxiety among those who hold our liberal faith, to realize that we can be the target of a hate crime… but that is not what has moved me in this tragedy. What has moved me in this tragedy has been the compassion, the courage, the hope that has been shown by so many in this time of trial. What has moved me is how our faith has stood up to stand with our sisters and brothers in Knoxville Tennessee.

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Perhaps these stories seem more real to me, because I have attended and led worship at TVUUC, I have attended worship at Second Presbyterian and Westside UU. I served as a Chaplain-Intern in the trauma center where the victims were taken. This tragic event happened in my hometown. The visuals of these spaces are very real in my mind, and what they might have looked like during the time of this senseless attack and after.

I find myself not visualizing the horrors of the attack, but the hope and courage of the response. And those images have moved my heart.

My heart is moved by the church members who risked and even lost their lives defending their fellow congregants from harm.

My heart is moved by the woman who ran from the sanctuary to call 911.

My heart is moved by those that gave first aid to the victims.

My heart is moved by the courageous congregants who tackled and held the assailant down until police arrived, minutes later.

My heart is moved by the adults of the church who shielded the youth on stage with their own bodies.

My heart is moved by the woman, who apparently yelled to her shocked fellow worshipers “Get the Hell Out of The Sanctuary!”

My heart is moved that one of the victims was visiting from another UU Church in Farragut, Tennessee.

My heart is moved by the members of Second Presbyterian, who left their own service to gather the children of TVUUC and protect them in their gym until their parents could come and gather them.

My heart is moved by those same Presbyterians who stayed long after their service, comforting their neighboring Unitarian Universalists, providing juices and snacks for investigators and congregants, and letting it be known just who they stood with in this hour of tragedy.

My heart is moved by what I know were the courageous and professional efforts of the doctors, nurses and staff at the UT Medical Center to save as many lives as they could, and by the pastoral response to this tragedy that I know the wonderful Chaplains of that institution brought forward from their faith.

My heart is moved by the courage, the hope, and the love that brought Rev. Chris Buice home so quickly from his vacation, to know that he was with his congregation before most of us around the world even knew what had happened.

My heart is moved by Rev. Gordon Gibson, a retired UU minister who was in the congregation that morning and who began ministry with the congregation immediately.

My heart is moved by the rapid response of the UUA Trauma Ministry Team, by the staff of the Thomas Jefferson District, and by the police and emergency services. It gives me hope that if something like this were to ever happen in a congregation I am serving, that our faith and our communities will be there to support us.

My heart is moved by the outpouring of love, concern, and support from Unitarian Universalists around the nation and around the world for this congregation I know and love.

My heart is moved by the congregations that have either already held or are planning to hold candlelight vigils in the coming days.

My heart is moved by the courage I have seen in my fellow Unitarian Universalists as we face the reality that our religion can be the target of a hate crime.

All of this and more have moved my heart. This man did what he did, and the justice system will do what it must do. I am not going to worry about that. I am instead going to stand in awe and wonder at the courage, at the compassion, at the hope, at the love, and at the faith that has been shown among us during these trying days.

I hope that the stories that we remember from this are the ones of hope, courage, compassion, love and faith… not whatever motives or thoughts were in the mind of the attacker.

Yours in Faith,


2 Thoughts on “Hope, Courage, Compassion, Love, Faith.

  1. Dear David

    Just wanted you to know that the thoughts, condolences and prayers of the Pagan community are with you at this time, too.

  2. Pingback: condolences | wildspirit

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