Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Jul 31, 2008; Section:Front Page; Page Number:1A

Community remembers Knox victims

• Local Unitarian Universalist minister cites opportunity of something good to come from tragedy.

By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

    ELIZABETHTON — Tri-Cities residents gathered Wednesday for a candlelight service to remember victims of Knoxville’s Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church who were killed or injured in Sunday’s shooting — and to send a message that there’s an opportunity for something good to come from the tragedy.

    “With everything in life, we have a choice with what with do with it,” said the Rev. Jacqueline Luck, minister at Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Gray, said after the service at First Presbyterian Church.

    “Maybe something good can come from it,” she said.

    Luck, who was on vacation Sunday when the shooting occurred, heard about it from fellow UUC ministers traveling from Asheville, N.C., to Knoxville.

    Immediately she drove to Knoxville to do her part in ministering to church members in need. She sat at the hospital with family members of victims, she participated in break-out group sessions with high-school-age
teens and she’s attended two other candlelight services, both in Knoxville.

    Luck said even with the tragedy of Sunday’s shooting, she believes the three Unitarian churches in Knoxville will take a strong stand against the death penalty — a strong belief of most Unitarians, she said — as punishment for the accused shooter, Jim Adkisson.

    “Most Unitarians are opposed to the death penalty. That’s going to be a topic of conversation. I think all three of these congregations will come out strongly against the death penalty,” she said.

    The Rev. John Shuck, minister at First Presbyterian, said during the service that the irony of the shooting was that if Adkisson had entered the church with open arms instead of a gun, the church would have embraced him.

    He said the shooting hits “close to home,” not only geographically, but philosophically as well.

    “We have a close working relationship with Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church,” he said, adding that the two churches have similar belief systems.

    “Could it happen here? Yes it could,” he said, but that shouldn’t cause people to live in fear.

    “We stand on the side of love,” Shuck said.

    During the service, Shuck lit six candles — one for the two church members who died and four for those wounded in the shooting.