Monday, June 01, 2009

The ELCA in Wichita endures extraordinary pain

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has experienced tough times as a member of the Body of Christ in Wichita, Kansas. The infamous "BTK Killer" was a leader in his ELCA congregation in Wichita while he wreaked havoc, fear and panic in the Wichita metro for over a decade, while the memory of his terror remains. Abortion practitioner Dr. George Tiller was serving as an usher at his ELCA congregation in Wichita when he was shot and killed yesterday--right before worship. My dear wife and I pondered together the scenario.

We were once considering relocating to that area, so I imagined the ramifications of this occurrence a little more deeply than most news stories, wondering how my family would be affected, how we would respond. The thoughts scramble my mind.

I have a hard time imagining the pain in those congregations--I have cared for congregations as an interim pastor that were torn apart by sexual misconduct by their former pastors. The pain is palpable and the healing seems incredibly far away--basic trust and faith are intertwined in a way that little in a faith community can be achieved, let alone the simple grace of God be felt when the most basic trust of safety is violated. For some reason, fatal violence goes beyond even sexual misconduct. Sometimes we tread with God in places we never thought we would go. My dear wife and I never would wish to go into a place where such suffering as in Wichita has occurred, but we do know that God is there. Shivers went up my spine when I read the news of Dr. Tiller's death, and I pray for the people of Resurrection Lutheran Church, its pastor, the bishop and the staff, and the people of Wichita in general. Healing seems too far off to imagine.

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