Following is a letter from the Rt. Rev. Alex Cameron to our Nashville-area congregations, in response to the shooting at The Covenant School on Monday, March 27, 2023.
Beloved in Christ,
The shooting at The Covenant School this past Monday—resulting in the deaths of three students and three staff, and, ultimately, the shooter—leaves us all in a state of shock. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families who have lost those they loved. Theirs is a difficult path to walk. Sudden and unexpected death is particularly challenging for us, and made moreso here by the violent nature of that death. Please join with me in praying for those whose grief is so raw as a result—that they may know the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit.
Additionally, this event is traumatic for all of the students and staff of the school and their families. School becomes for them a place of fear rather than love and learning. The wider community, including your congregation, may be unsettled, fearful, and perhaps angry at all of this. These effects are not easy to overcome.
As I think of this event, I cannot help but be reminded of the Biblical account of the Holy Innocents. Tragically, children have been and continue to be victims of sin and violence in our world, leaving parents and communities at a loss for how to move forward. After Herod kills the male children of Bethlehem, Matthew 2 reads,
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’ (Matt. 2:17-18)
Lament, loud and communal, is our beginning place. Shared grief and lament is that which says, in our distress and mourning, “Things are not as they should be!” And they are not. This should be said out loud. It is our anguished acknowledgement that in this event we see again the devastation of sin and brokenness in our world—and feel it keenly. I invite you to loud and communal lament, to share your grief, your fear, your anger with one another. To weep with those who mourn. This, to me, is the Biblical response.
In our lament we seek, for those who are personally devastated and for ourselves, the consolation of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter—that he would meet us in our grief, that we may not grieve alone, or as those without hope, as Paul tells the Thessalonians.
In this moment, we long for the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). But until that day, we need our lament and our mourning, and to find in them the grace of His comfort.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for you and for all who mourn in Nashville.
Grace and peace to you,
The Rt. Rev. Alex W. Cameron
Letter from the Rev. Andrew J. DeFusco, rector of Church of the Redeemer, Nashville, TN: click to read
Letter from the Rev. Michael McGhee, rector of St. John's Anglican Church, Franklin, TN: click to read