Since the news of the violence and senseless loss of three precious lives on Thursday night at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills reached us all, I have continued to grapple with it. We have slowly learned more, both about the victims – and about the perpetrator as well.
We know that the shooter is an arms dealer who had visited the church (but wasn’t known to anyone really) and it seems that he had something of a spotty past, including not following gun regulations and using law enforcement badges inappropriately. Of course, it’s not surprising that he isn’t a stand up guy. . . However, so far, this information seems to be all we know.
No real motive is clear, no reason he chose to attack these people at the Boomer’s Potluck on a Thursday night.
This thought is just haunting me.
The above picture is one I treasure so, of my bestie/sister, Ginny, her sister in law, Sheila, her mom (who I always borrowed), Marie, and me in the fellowship hall at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church – just across town – after service together around 2005 – as we were many Sundays – celebrating and having lunch. Like many church families, this is what Episcopalians do – and I cherish our memories there.
Thinking about that, the idea that someone came in to the fellowship hall at St. Stephen’s – and was welcomed and asked to join – and then attacked this group as they gathered just breaks my heart.
Even more heart wrenching, after a gentleman in attendance hit the shooter with a chair to stop him (thank God or who knows how much worse it would have even been), one of the precious ladies who was there – and under attack herself – even later said that the hero who had intervened had not hit the attacker hard enough to hurt him, only to stop him.
Yes, even AFTER the attack, these people are those wonderful kind of compassionate people.
I am not surprised.
I know them well from our churches and our fellowship halls.
I am so sad and sick and so very angry that this man EVER thought he had the right to break the sanctuary of that space. I grieve for the families of the victims and for the church, especially as they return to service on this Father’s Day.
I pray for their healing and for comfort in their pain.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.