Notes from and about Knoxville

My friend, colleague and mentor, Rev. Susan Suchocki Brown is in Knoxville leading the UUA Trauma Response Ministry in their efforts to help bring consolation to the community there.  With her permission I bring to you excerpts from a posting to the Yahoo Group at First Church UU in Leominster:

Our UU president was here in Knoxville last night and over 1000
attended a vigil. The interfaith connections are rich and the 2nd
Presbyterian where the children ran to during the shooting opened their
doors for last nights groups and vigil. If I even started to give you
details of my day I would overwhelm even me. but let me say I have been
doing the things I can to help, being with ministers, congregants,
firefighters…

I have been with the congregants, the ministers, the community. I want to
share a heart rending story too. Last night the cast of the musical Annie
which was 5 minutes into its performance when the shooting began decided
they would close the worship service by singing the last song of the musical
event the name of the song is Tomorrow. They sang with heart and the
congregation cried as they sang this most fitting song and it gave the cast
who were on stage as the shooter entered and who witnessed face on the event
an opportunity to honor Greg McKentry one of the men who died and their
friend. As you can tell from my meanderings there is lots to do, lots to
think about and many stories of resiliency, compassion, hope and love even
in the midst of tragedy. We UU’s are the ones who can bring a message of
hope and love to the world how we model and act in the midst of horror.

My friends take care of one another- pray for the congregations here three
of them are effected- pray for the families of those deceased and hug your
family members and one another.

It is understandable that in the wake of events such as these that have transpired in Knoxville that some among us will be having second thoughts about how boldly we stand out in the public sphere for GLBTQ rights, for anti-racism/anti oppression efforts and on behalf of anything else that in contemporary American society is seen as antithetical to the mainstream.  There will always be that danger that those who stand on the side of love; those who stand on the side of justice; those who stand on the side of acceptance will draw the ire and misplaced anger and rage of those who do not or who can not meet us in beloved community in a place of love.  However, the tragic events of Sunday morning offer us also the opportunity to continue to be ourselves, to open our doors to all who would come as they are to seek truth and meaning in a place where there is no such thing as a lesser person.  May we all find the courage to continue to be examples of the best human community can be and in our grief and sorrow and mourning be light to our neighbors.  Let us hope that fear  doesn’t hide the light we have to shine.

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