Nashville pastor delivers first sermon since daughter killed in shooting

Carrying his pain to the pulpit, Reverend Chad Scruggs choked back the emotion as he thanked his congregation for their support during his family’s time of mourning, as he delivered his first sermon since a mass shooting claimed the life to her 9-year-old child. daughter Hallie two months ago.

“First of all, we love you,” Mr Scruggs told a packed Covenant Presbyterian Church during his Mother’s Day sermon, his voice cracking. “We loved you before March 27, and we love you more now because of the way you loved us.”

He remarked that people continually ask how his family is doing, saying, “The answer you’ll usually get from us is, ‘We don’t know’.”

The church in Nashville, Tennessee, founded The Covenant School, where Audrey Hale, 28, a biological woman who identified as male, killed Hallie and two other fourth graders, along with three adults on the 27th March. Police officers shot and killed Hale at the school.

Mr Scruggs said he looked for help in the writings of Christian apologist CS Lewis, who compared the loss of his wife, Joy, to an amputation in his book ‘A Grief Observed’.

“We learn to live with a missing part of us,” the pastor said. “Like losing an arm, perhaps, knowing that the phantom pain of that lost arm will always be there with us, just know that from our perspective now, it seems impossible to pretend that the arm will regenerate or that it will will never feel whole this side of heaven.

He then quoted the 40th chapter of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible, where the Jewish prophet refers to “trying to walk without fainting”.

Reflecting on the last words of Jesus dying on the cross in the Christian Gospel of John, he noted that families are “widened and developed in him.”

“So what Jesus is teaching us this morning is that the mothers in him actually have more children, and the brothers have more sisters, and the children have more parents,” Mr. Scruggs said, voice trembling.

He said that while Christian hope “never erases sorrow,” the women on the cross with Jesus suffered with him during his death. He thanked the congregation for doing the same for him, his wife and their three other children after Hallie’s death.

“You have come forward to suffer with us, which is an acknowledgment that love under the shadow of the cross is often best expressed not in words, but in presence and in tears,” he said. added.

Authorities have not provided a motive for the mass shooting. A group of parents from the Covenant School have demanded that the shooter’s writings remain sealed, citing the threat of copycat attacks.

In an email to The Washington Times, a spokeswoman said Mr Scruggs was unavailable for interviews about his sermon.

“As I’m sure you can understand, he is focused on his family and the grieving and healing process. He is not engaging with the media, taking part in interviews etc at this time” , she said.

Leaders of the church and school – which ends its school year on Wednesday – had also asked not to be interviewed, the spokeswoman said. The Covenant School has approximately 209 students and approximately 50 staff.

“The church and school are focused on supporting students, faculty, staff and families and ending the school year as best as possible,” the spokeswoman said.

Besides Hallie Scruggs, 9-year-old classmates Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney died in the March 27 shooting.

Staff members were also killed: caretaker Mike Hill, 61; school principal Katherine Koonce, 60; and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61.


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