Religious leaders defer in healing


Religious leaders defer in healing


<b>Few mention Va. Tech during Sunday sermons</b>

By: Allison Nichols, Assistant State & National Editor
Posted: 4/23/07

The Rev. Ruth Stevens, whose son graduated from Virginia Tech in 2004, was one of few ministers of Franklin Street churches to address in a sermon Sunday the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

"The most vulnerable were not the 32 students who were shot," she said at University United Methodist Church, linking the week&#39;s events to Christian teachings. "The most vulnerable was the one who did the shooting."

Stevens said some of her parishioners have felt out of step with society at large because they feel empathy for Seung-Hui Cho, the Va. Tech senior who shot 32 others before killing himself, in addition to their compassion for his victims.

She and other area religious leaders said no one has come to them in the past week for help coping with the tragedy

"I think the University really counsels itself," said Rabbi Ben Packer of the Jewish Experience Movement of the South, a UNC student organization.

"It&#39;s amazing how the University community has come together to deal with it communally, whether it&#39;s religious or in other ways," he said, adding that the Va. Tech shootings were a main topic of conversation at Shabbat meals on the Sabbath.

Packer said the reactions of students with whom he&#39;s spoken about the tragedy were neither uniquely religious nor uniquely Jewish.

"Everybody&#39;s hurting from it," he said. "Everyone kind of feels the same pain."

The Rev. Bob Dunham of University Presbyterian Church said that for people within any faith tradition, there is an element of basic personal compassion for the pain of others, as well as a responsibility to intervene whenever possible.

He said the most important thing people can do now is to listen to those most affected by the deaths at Va. Tech.

"It&#39;s too early to talk about forgiveness," he said.

Rabbi John Friedman of the Judea Reform Congregation in Durham said he&#39;s talked to his congregation about gun control laws and mental health care in America in the aftermath of Va. Tech.

"Part of the spiritual reaction that is normal in human beings is to look for ways to address the underlying causes or lack of prevention," he said. "It helps us spiritually to feel more secure."

Agape Campus Ministry did not address the shootings Sunday in its Christian service in the Student Union, nor have students approached the organization&#39;s ministers for help dealing with the week&#39;s events.

"The University as a community has done such a good job of coping together," Packer said by way of explanation. "It&#39;s really been very helpful with the candlelight vigil, with all the different Facebook groups."


Original Source:<a href=>The Daily Tar Heel - April 23, 2007</a>


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Allison Nichols, “Religious leaders defer in healing,” The April 16 Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,