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Fund raises $41,000 for Knoxville church shooting victims

Gifts will support ‘spiritual care and practical financial assistance’; other donors fund UUA ad in New York Times.
By Jane Greer
8.11.08

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A relief fund set up to help those affected by the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., two weeks ago has raised $41,000. That amount represents the contributions of 660 donors, according to Catherine Lynch, a spokesperson for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Stewardship and Development Office, which is managing the collection process.

The fund was set up in the aftermath of the July 27 incident, when Jim David Adkisson, 58, entered the sanctuary during a Sunday morning children’s performance of “Annie Jr.,” firing three shots from a semiautomatic shotgun, killing two and wounding six, before he was subdued by congregants and taken into police custody. There were about 200 people in the audience that morning.

Killed were Greg McKendry, 60, a board member and usher at TVUUC and Linda Kraeger, 61, a member of the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, also in Knoxville. Several of those wounded were also Westside members.

The fund was set up by the UUA and the UUA’s Thomas Jefferson District to “bring ministry, spiritual care, and practical financial assistance” to the victims and their families, as well as to others affected by the event. Fund dispersals will be overseen by a committee consisting of representatives from the district and the two congregations. The Thomas Jefferson District serves UU congregations in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The children’s performance of “Annie Jr.” was the culmination of a two-week summer theater program. In addition to children from both Knoxville congregations, children from the community also participated. Many in the audience that day were not members of the church but had come to see the performance.

On Friday, August 8, UUA President William G. Sinkford announced that a separate fundraising effort was sponsoring a full-page advertisement in the Sunday New York Times.

“The terrible crime and the inspiring responses have put Unitarian Universalism under an intense media spotlight,” Sinkford said, “and we now find ourselves called to publicly define who we are and what we stand for. Now is the time to let the world know that we will continue to stand on the side of love—even, and especially, during these challenging circumstances.”

The full-page ad will appear in the newspaper’s News section, he said.


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