Last week I received a text from my oldest son who is a college sophomore. “Have you seen the news? There has been a shooting at UNC Chapel Hill.” I told him, “No, I hadn’t heard” as I raced to the internet to find out details. “Doesn’t UKirk have a ministry there?” he asked. Yes, friends, we do, and we ask continued prayers for Rev. Berry French, PCM Chapel Hill and the whole UNC and Chapel Hill campus and community as they navigate both how quickly everything moves “back to normal” in the midst of the lingering effects a campus lock-down and tragedy bring.
This is the 3rd university campus shooting that UKirk ministers and students have had to navigate since November, 2022. (University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, and Michigan State in East Lansing, MI). This does not include other instances of gun violence in cities and schools across the country. Rev. Dr. Matt Frease of UKirk Tallahassee wrote a resource for UKirk Ministries that provides thoughtful, concrete ways you can care for students and your community after a tragic event. You can find it in the UKirk Community Resources section using your username and password or here.* We are also working to schedule a virtual discussion on disaster preparedness, which will include information on both natural and human-caused disaster. Stay tuned for more information on a date and time.
I know that many in the UKirk Network surrounded Berry and UNC Chapel Hill with support and prayer. My prayer is that each of you throughout the network knows you are not alone as you do the beautiful, messy, transformative work that you do. Not only is God with you, your colleagues throughout the network are, too.
On Wednesday morning, August 30th, Rev. Ashley-Anne Masters of PCM Raleigh shared her blog post with me last week, Lament of a Campus Minister. She was able to put into words the complexity ministry with and to college students can be amidst both the small, beautiful moments and the tragedies. It reminded me that God’s presence and yours make a difference to the students and communities you are a part of. I hope it reminds you of that, too.
Blessings and peace,
PS – Please keep Ashley-Anne and the NC State community in your prayers as well. Just after I sent the weekly email, I found out that there has been another student death on the NC State campus. This makes 15 in the last year, 7 died by suicide. (edit added at 3:53 pm, Central)
*If you have misplaced the username/password you received from [email protected] to update your ministry page, or need to receive one, there is a link to request access to Community Resources on the Resources page.