Members of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, gathered for worship on Sunday for the first time since six individuals from The Covenant School were murdered in a shooting last week, expressing hope in Jesus Christ and His resurrection amid the tragedy that unexpectedly struck their community.
The congregants, gathered in the sanctuary of nearby Christ Presbyterian Church on the evening of Palm Sunday, were welcomed by Rev. Britton Wood, who noted that the worshipers were joined by several family members and friends who had flown to Nashville from across the country, as well as law enforcement officials from the Metro Nashville Police Department.
“The world has changed since the last time we got together on the Lord’s Day,” the minister noted. “Today is the day that we are reminded by our King, who lived for us and who died for us and who has risen for us, today is the day that He reminds us of the things that have not changed, of the Kingdom that cannot be shaken. And let that draw us to offer God worship with reverence and awe.”
A 28-year-old woman who identified as a man killed three children and three adults at The Covenant School, a ministry of the conservative evangelical congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, as the school day began on Monday, March 27. Police revealed that the shooter, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with company policy, executed a “targeted attack” and wrote a “manifesto” ahead of the massacre.
The 9-year-old students killed in the shooting were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, the daughter of Covenant Presbyterian Church senior minister Chad Scruggs. Dr. Katherine Koonce, the school’s 60-year-old principal, was also killed, as were 61-year-olds Mike Hill, an employee at the school, and Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher.
Mourning congregants were comforted as they sang hymns such as “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” “Be Still My Soul,” and “Abide with Me.” One of the congregational prayers asked God to comfort those in their church family impacted by the shooting.
“Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding, deal graciously with those who mourn,” the prayer said. “Surround them with Your love, that they may not be overwhelmed with their loss, but have confidence in Your goodness and strength to meet the days to come. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Rev. Billy Barnes preached from the final chapter of Luke, in which Jesus appeared to His grieving disciples on the road to the town of Emmaus shortly after His resurrection. The passage is marked by the disciples expressing confusion in light of Jesus’ death without realizing that He was walking alongside them even amid their sadness. Barnes noted that reminders of the good news about Jesus Christ bring healing to the soul, even through pain and sorrow, because “God is in control and He is sovereign.”
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“We are all on the road to Emmaus together right now,” the minister said. “He is with us. And He will be until the end of the age. And He is risen. Everything is true. It’s all true.”