'Heart aches for the hometown': Churches respond to #Chattanooga

United Methodist congregations pray, grieve and speak for peace after shootings in their city


  1. Jul 18, 2015 6:45 PM EDT -- The 887 churches of Holston Conference are close-knit. Their pastors are appointed to new congregations every few years, moving in and out of the cities and rural communities of east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia. Church members from different states and towns join in meetings and worship services throughout the year. They know each other.
  2. So when news of the July 16 shootings of military personnel in Chattanooga, Tenn., began to tear through news and social-media networks, Holston pastors and lay members were hurt and stunned. They responded.
  3. Some United Methodist churches opened their doors for prayer:
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  5. "We have just learned that four military personnel were killed in Chattanooga this morning. Our staff will gather in Kate Lyle West Chapel at 3 p.m. to pray for the families. We encourage each of our members and friends to be in prayer also." -- From an email sent from First-Centenary United Methodist Church to the congregation at 2:29 p.m. on July 16.
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  7. Pastors responded quickly with prayers and calls for peace on social media. Some attended prayer vigils at other churches:
  8. "Chattanooga ... my hometown. Lord, have mercy. Prayers for District Superintendent Brenda Carroll and all the clergy who serve there." -- Rev. Catherine Nance, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church of Maryville, Tenn.
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  10. "Lord, we cry out to you during this news from Chattanooga, because you are our fortress and an ever present help in these times. Amen." -- Rev. Susan Arnold, pastor at Blountville United Methodist Church in Blountville, Tenn.
  11. Others shared their prayers along with grief and pride for their home city:
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  13. "Merciful Father, we are in need of You at this moment. Our world is being shattered before our eyes. It is too much for us, but not for You. Grant peace and mercy to those who are affected in unimaginable ways this day by the shooting. Families, friends, communities are in shock. Hold us, guide us, comfort us. Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen." -- From the Facebook page of Daisy United Methodist Church in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.
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  15. "I find my strength, I find my hope, I find my help in Christ alone. When fear assails, when darkness falls, I find my peace in Christ alone. ‪#‎prayforchattanooga -- Dagan West Beckett, Burks United Methodist Church, Chattanooga
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  17. "Prayers for my city ... Please remember one person's actions do not dictate the intentions or the beliefs of a whole belief system or cultural group. Extremists are in every religion. Let this not be divisive however an opportunity to come together as a community ... Prayers to each Chattanoogan." -- Megan Watson, East Ridge United Methodist Church
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  20. Some Chattanooga pastors and their worship services were featured in the media. Here's a report from Fox 5 of Atlanta, featuring Rev. Clair Sauer and Rev. Ben Matherly:
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