Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Stand with Knoxville

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Jul 15, 2009

Rev. Chris Buice

Rev. Chris Buice

A letter from Rev. Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church
July, 15th 2009

On Sunday, July 27th, 2008, a man walked into the sanctuary of my church–Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church–and opened fire. Two dedicated Unitarian Universalists were killed: Greg McKendry, an usher, and Linda Kraeger, a member of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church. Six other people were injured. Every member of our two congregations was affected.

In the aftermath of that tragic morning, the surrounding community embraced us. We kept our hearts and our doors open, and love came rushing in from every direction.

One year later, I remain deeply grateful for the countless hugs, cards, meals, and prayers that sustained us. I could not have known then that our commitment to love in the face of violence would inspire the Unitarian Universalist Association to launch the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign. I couldn’t be more pleased, however, because experience has taught me that brokenness can only be healed with love.

As we approach the first anniversary of the shooting, I ask you to join this campaign by pledging to stand on the side of love.

Unfortunately, our experience is not unique. People across the nation face exclusion, oppression, or violence because of their immigrant status, sexual or gender orientation, religion, race, political views, among other identities. Such dehumanization must be challenged. This campaign invites people of every faith and belief to stand together in the name of love. Our nation is at a critical moment, when our collective voice and action can heal families, towns, cities, states, and nations.

One week after the shooting, I returned to the pulpit to rededicate our sanctuary. I said, ‘A man came into this space with a desire to do an act of hatred, but he has unleashed unspeakable amounts of love.’

Join with me in that unleashing of love.

I invite you to open your hearts and join thousands of others who are standing on the side of love.

Rev. Chris Buice
Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

13 Responses to “Stand with Knoxville”

  1. Old_Boh says:

    Love is the animating inspiriting power of life and Creation.
    Evil exists but love is stronger and Love will prevail — it always has.

  2. Pat Brooks says:

    I joyfully join you in unleashing love.

  3. Timothy Joseph Ward says:

    ,…devotion life karma continuance…,nam myoho renge kyo…,

    there is a hymn that’s tells of a gentle angry people and yet we channel this
    most often towards a vigilance that embraces love most of all…,

    Continuance~~~, Be’well, Timothy Joseph Ward,
    Member : First Unitarian Church of Baltimore

  4. Elizabeth Anderson says:

    Outpourings of love to you from a little island off the coast of Texas – Galveston.

  5. i wish you and your congregation a continuing journey toward peace.

  6. Brandon Daughtry Slocum says:

    I did not have it in my heart to forgive this man for what he had done, but the example set by the people of TVUUC has shown me that the only way to move forward and build a better world is to forgive, love and continue to believe in tolerance, acceptance, and community. Their strength and courage has been a gift that has changed me and given me hope.

  7. Annie Kiermaier says:

    Please know that many of us in Maine are doing our part to Stand on the Side of Love as we work towards marriage equality. Our hearts, and our love will be with you as you and your congregation move forward into a future of love and acceptance for all. Blessings to all of you!

    Member, First Universalist Church in Rockland Maine

  8. Patty Brewer says:

    “All I know of Love is that Love is all there is.” Emily Dickinson

    My thoughts and prayers go out to TVUUC and those affected; may you all find comfort through God’s love, compassion and grace.

  9. Tiffany says:

    I am a new member of TVUUC. I must say that this church has only grown stronger since the shooting. I was not a part of the church during that time, only having moved to Knoxville a couple weeks after the tragedy. Through tragedy though, this church has survived and risen above the hatred that the shooter exhibited.

    As a lesbian and a pagan (Now UU pagan), I truly feel loved and supported by the congregation of this church and by Rev. Buice. Every time I attend, I am welcomed with open arms. Love is definitely the spirit of that church.

  10. Henry Austin says:

    Thank you for your efforts to respond to violence in this way. In Louisville, we have had the unfortunate experience with a church and it’s pastor which held an “Open Carry” (guns) service at their church. Our church (Thomas Jefferson Unitarian) cosponsored a response called “Bring Your Peaceful Heart”. It’s a sad thing indeed to see a pastor advocate church members bringing weapons into a place of peace. I questioned what other societal norms would they transgress- guns in day care, on first dates….Your focus expresses the spirtual heart of many UU’s and thank you for that.

  11. Valerie Mapstone Ackerman says:

    love Love LOVE

  12. Melinda Wallace says:

    Dear Friends, I want to wish you the warmest remembrance from Salt Lake City, Utah. I have recently been studying the Quaker method of “Conflict Resolution”.

    Last night, one man asked about what I was learning about conflict resolution. Well, I had just started to learn some of the methods so I get started to joke and do my impression of the infamous Caption Hardy, Animal Control Office trying to apprehend a rabid bear (you’d have to know Hardy to see why this was funny).

    The guy just burst out laughing, then crying. He told me that he was a Veteran who had had marital and financial trouble recently. He said he almost did a “code purple”, which is when a person just freaks out and lashes out a society with a gun or other weapon.

    | felt it was the Spirit of the Lord that helped me do my impression of the Rabid Bear and my crisis management of giving him my s’mores.

    Love to you all,


  13. Old_Boh says:

    Melinda -
    thanks! Humor is such a big healer!
    Your story is good for us to embrace — Could we respond this way to some of the hate-speech that flies around? with non-sarcastic gentle humor?
    It’ll really call for the kind of creativity you tell about.
    ( Rx– watch the Daily Show! ;-)

    Laughs & Hugs -

    John Bohstedt, TVUUC

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