Sunday fifteen of us gathered after the service to share our feelings and thoughts about the shootings at the Tennessee Valley UU church in Knoxville, TN that took place on July 27th. I know that any of you who have followed the story grieve with the families in Knoxville. A terrible event like this raises so many questions. We seek to understand the motivations of a man like the shooter, Jim Adkisson: what forces in society influenced him to step so outside the bounds of humanity? What are the implications for us? How do we stay open, courageous and welcoming and not become fearful or paranoid? Why was this church, the liberal movement, targeted?
This incident has also created some very interesting connections between compassionate people of all faiths, the Knoxville church and our movement. Never in my lifetime have I seen so many articles about UUism in the media. We have been given a chance to show the strength of our convictions and the breadth of our love and acceptance.
Charles Wilson forwarded a link to an op-ed piece written by a woman who grew up in a UU church, the Northshore UU Church to be exact, in the late ’60’s. Laurie Patton is now a professor of religion at Emory University and the daughter of Chris and Anthony Patton, members of NSUU. She posted her empathetic response to the experiences of the children of the TVUUC. Her article is called “Liberal Hatred” and I think you’ll enjoy reading about how your RE classes shaped this woman’s life.