Unitarian Universalist Tragedy

As I have mentioned in passing in this space, I am a Unitarian Universalist. I grew up going to UU churches, and I consider my Unitarian Universalism to be a major part of my identity. I attend Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, TX, where I gather weekly with adults and youth to deepen my understanding of the divine and my commitment to making the world a more sustainable and kinder place to be. While I am not reticent in stating my faith when asked, I rarely go out of my way to expressly identify myself as a UU. Instead, I work to exemplify my faith through my actions and my work.

Today is different.

This morning an armed man walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and fired on the congregation sitting in their morning services. Two are dead, and more are in critical condition. There is no evident motive. The shooter is in custody.

Today I stand with Unitarian Universalists around the world as we send support and love to the Knoxville UUs through our prayers and our thoughts.

Here is the message sent out by Rev. William G. Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

I am shocked and sorrowed by the terrible shootings in the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

My heart is heavy and my prayers are with our injured sisters and brothers in Knoxville. While many details of this tragedy remain unclear, our Association will do all we can to support Unitarian Universalists in Knoxville in the hard days to come.

A tragedy such as this makes us acutely conscious of the beauty and fragility of our lives and those of our loved ones. I am especially saddened by this intrusion of violence into a worship service involving children and youth.

I know that many people, both in Knoxville and around the country, are struggling with shock and grief right now. I pray that those so affected will find strength and comfort.

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry are on their way to Knoxville to offer additional ministry to the congregation as it grieves. And Unitarian Universalists around the world are sending love and prayers to the Tennessee Valley congregation to tell them they are not alone on this dark day.

Yes, I am struggling with shock and grief. I know that many of my readers are Unitarian Universalists, and I know that you are working through this difficult time as well. Know that we will stand together and we will lean on each other for support. Our shared faith and doctrine of love will carry us through these terrible times.

Regardless of your religious affiliation, please pray, meditate, and send healing love and energy to our community in Knoxville.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Karen, I am praying and sending the healing love and energy to the UU community in Knoxville. What a shock to have this happen unexpectedly while attending church services!

    And, also, those same prayers and love and energy go to the shooter, and those other unfortunate tortured souls who are so unable to find peace within themselves.

  2. I learned about this when I got into work this morning. I was deeply saddened, not only as a UU, but as a human. I only hope that the person who did this can still be healed. I will keep all in my thoughts, prayers, and meditations.

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