Virginia Tech Shooting: What the Church Is Saying

April 18, 2007

By United Methodist News Service*

The deaths of 33 people April 16 on the campus of Virginia Tech University -- in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history -- brought an outpouring of reactions from across the world, including within The United Methodist Church. Here are some thoughts from United Methodists across the connection:

“The God that I worship is crying along with us. This is not what He intends as an abundant life for His children – to be mowed down in innocence by somebody that just went berserk.” –The Rev. Glenn Tyndall, campus minister, Virginia Tech University

"Last night, just before I hung up from talking with my son, I told him that I loved him, and loved him a lot. And I realized that many, many people were not being given that same opportunity because it had been violently taken away from them." --Erik Alsgaard, whose 23-year-old son, a senior at Virginia Tech, was not on campus during the shootings. Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Annual Conference.

"We've been shocked into remembering our purpose as the body of Christ. … We are to be intercessors on behalf of the whole world. The highest calling at this time is to pray." --The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, chief executive, Board of Discipleship, asking all United Methodist congregations to include special prayers on Sunday, April 22, for those touched by the tragedy

"How many more senseless deaths will have to be counted before we enact meaningful firearms control in this country?" --The Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and leader of the National Council of Churches

"It's going to be tough to come back from this, but as long as we have the support of each other … somebody to lean on every day." --Amanda Rader, a senior at Virginia Tech and member of the campus Wesley Foundation

"They are all tired, but energized by the work before them." --Bishop Charlene Kammerer, Virginia Annual Conference, speaking about the United Methodist campus ministry at Virginia Tech

"I hate days like this." --Billy Reeder, First United Methodist Church, Dardanelle, Ark., after hearing about the shooting and the rising death toll

"The presence of guns in U.S. society has not led to greater security but in fact has undermined the general sense of safety." --Jim Winkler, chief executive, Board of Church and Society

"We're a connectional people. This is Virginia Tech's tragedy. It is our tragedy. It is a time for us to remember to love deeply, and gently, because everybody we meet is carrying a heavy burden. We have the opportunity to be a means of grace." --The Rev. Dale Schultz, St. Philips United Methodist Church, Round Rock, Texas

"I was really shocked to hear that this senseless crime was committed by a Korean immigrated student. … My thought and prayer go out to the bereaved families and the American people who are going through a very hard time. At the same time, I also think of the Korean community in the U.S. that will be under greater shock and worry, hoping that there will be no undesirable negative feeling and attitude toward Koreans. --Bishop Kyung-Ha Shin, president of the Council of Bishops, The Korean Methodist Church

"I thank God we have a campus minister on that (Virginia Tech) campus, someone who knows the students and the community." --The Rev. Luther Felder, who oversees campus ministry for the Board of Higher Education and Ministry

"So, it is now about our response. … Pledge to do 10 acts in the name of Christ for every dead. … And then, one year from now, when the news coverage reminds us of what happened, instead of being catapulted back into your pain, you can walk to your wall and celebrate 330 things that you have done to beat Satan down. You win. In the name of Christ." --Debra L. Cicchella, Cleveland, Ohio

"In this joyous season of Easter, we have discovered how Good Friday has intruded on our world again … " --Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the Council of Bishops, during a prayer to open a denomination-wide “town hall” meeting April 17

"The entire United Methodist-related higher education community of schools, colleges, universities and theological schools is shocked and deeply saddened by the wanton killing of human beings at Virginia Technical University." --The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, chief executive, Board of Higher Education and Ministry

"We look to you, Jesus, to help us forgive what seems to be unforgivable." --Deb Spaulding, Faith United Methodist Church, St. Charles, Mo.

This story was compiled from various sources, including 7Villages, an online social network of The United Methodist Church at www.umc.org.

(See also Bishop Shamana's blog.)