Stand with Knoxville
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.
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.
Rev. Chris Buice
Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church