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Unitarian Universalist church president responds to Knoxville tragedy, vows continued social justice work

UUA news release:

Knoxville, Tenn. – Rev. William G. Sinkford issued the following statement after visiting the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville:

“The shootings here in Knoxville have shocked and grieved us all.  The UUA is providing all of the support we can muster to minister to those touched most immediately by this horrific tragedy.   This crime was the action of one man who clearly must have lost the battle with his personal demons.  When I was asked if the shooter would go to hell, I replied that he must have been living in his own private hell for years. 

“While the shooter was just one man, this attack was an assault on the entire Knoxville community, not simply one or two congregations.  The heroic and generous actions of the people inside the Tennessee Valley UU Church have inspired the respect and admiration of the city, the nation, and even, perhaps, much of the world. The start of the healing process has brought together thousands of individuals. Monday night’s candlelight vigil was overflowing with people of many faiths who were unwilling to let traditional lines of religious division keep them apart.  That response is a true blessing.

“Unitarian Universalism is a faith that is not based on a particular creed. Instead, it is grounded in a few deeply help principles.  First among these principles is “the inherent worth and dignity of all people,” a belief that compels us to speak out on important justice issues. This has been part of our mission since the early days of abolitionism, continuing through women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and our current advocacy on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.  We truly are a church of  “all souls,” not just some souls.

“It will take time for Unitarian Universalists to mourn and to heal.  But let me assure you that we will not change our beliefs or compromise our demands for social justice. Fear will not prevent us from standing on the side of love, and we will continue to open our doors and our hearts to all people.   This Sunday, just like any other, more than one thousand Unitarian Universalist congregations will be open for business, and our business is to welcome the stranger, to love our neighbor, to nurture the spirits of our people, and to help heal our wounded world.”

The Unitarian Universalist Association has created the Knoxville Relief Fund, to bring ministry, spiritual care, and practical financial assistance to those affected by the tragedy in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gifts to the fund will assist members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Westside Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and their loved ones. No more than 5% of the funds raised will be used to cover administrative costs, including fees for credit card processing.  For more information, including a link for online donations, please visit http://www.uua.org/giving/donatenow/117168.shtml.

The Unitarian Universalist Association is a faith community of more than 1000 self-governing congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information on the UUA, including recent press releases and news articles, please visit our online pressroom at www.uua.org/pressroom..

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