Shuck and Jive

Monday, July 28, 2008

Today Is Not a Day to be Quiet

In a news conference this morning, Knoxville police chief, Sterling Owen, reported that the shooter at TVUUC, Jim Adkisson, had left a four page letter in his vehicle. The letter has not been made public. Owen said that in the letter, Adkisson was frustrated about not being able to find a job and blamed his frustrations on the "liberal movement."

Owen said Adkisson was apparently frustrated over being out of work and had a "stated hatred of the liberal movement. The church is known for advocating women's and gay rights and founding an American Civil Liberties Union chapter. Owen said the letter indicated Adkisson did not expect to leave the church alive and had 76 rounds of ammunition for his 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun." WVLT

According to the Knoxville Sentinel:
Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said. “Liberals in general, as well as gays.”
The paper went on to say:
“It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance,” the chief said. The church has a “gays welcome” sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.
It appears that he specifically chose TVUUC as it embodied this liberal movement that he despised and blamed for his troubles. He had 76 rounds for his shotgun. Like a suicide bomber he was going to take out as many liberals as he could before going down himself.

Other congregations are reaching out.

At about 10:25 a.m., two staffers from Second Presbyterian Church next door, placed a large flower arrangement from their church’s sanctuary atop TVUUC’s sign along Kingston Pike.

“Our hearts go out to this church. This is our community. We love these people,” said Julie Lothrop, assistant to the pastor.

The senior pastor of First Baptist of Knoxville, Bill Shiell, wrote the following on his blog:
The last place anyone expected a lone gunman to destroy the lives of innocent people was Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Rev. Chris Buice has been a voice of peace, unity, and harmony throughout his ministry in East Tennessee. He has led reconciliation movements, and First Baptst has followed his lead through the End Violence initiatives in Knox County.

The forces of evil are random enough to pick the good people and congregations who care about peace to try to silence the voices of people like Chris Buice and the good people of TVUUC. But today is not a day to be quiet. Instead, it’s a day to be reminded that the forces of evil do not determine our perspective on the present.