Illinois UM Church Remembers Campus Shooting Victim
A UMNS Report by Linda Bloom*
Austin Cloyd was raised as a child of faith, taught by her family that she was blessed and needed to pass on that blessing to others.
That faith was evident to the Rev. Terry Harter, senior pastor of
Cloyd was one of the 32 victims of Cho Seung-Hui, a disturbed student who went on a shooting rampage April 16 at
Her family -- including her parents, C. Bryan and Renee Cloyd, and her brother, Andrew, a high school student -- had moved in 2005 to
"I've talked with Bryan and Renee a couple of times in the last few days," Harter told United Methodist News Service in an April 18 interview. "They're extremely upset and distraught."
The Cloyds joined the Champaign congregation in 1999 when Mr. Cloyd joined the faculty at the
Harter remembered how Austin Cloyd, a redhead with a big smile, lit up a room. She was humble, but not shy, with a good sense of humor. And she was tall enough for Harter, at 6-foot-1, to look her straight in the eye.
Harter's wife, Martha, served as
"She wasn't one of those persons who had to be out front, but, boy, if she wasn't there, you'd miss her," Mrs. Harter said.
Austin and her mother joined others from the congregation for an Appalachian Service Project, where they helped build an addition for a house.
"It's amazing how different life is in Appalachia, how important family is, and how the land is cherished,"
She enjoyed the friendliness of the children and the grandparents and was impressed by their overall hospitality. "At the end of the week, the grandfather thanked us and told us that he was going to make a sign that says 'House that Love Built' and put it up on the addition," she wrote. "But we figured that there was already so much love within their home, we just helped put more walls around it."
Rev. Harter said the Appalachian Service Project made such a lasting impression that Austin and her mother began a project with a local agency to rehabilitate houses in the Champaign-Urbana area. "We still continue that," he added.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in