Highland Park Tragedy - Pastoral Response
Dear Holy Cross community,
Our hearts are heavy with the news of the events that transpired in our neighboring community of Highland Park. There are now 7 fatalities and we grieve for those families who are suffering the death of a loved one. There were dozens injured and treated by first responders and area hospitals. We lift them up in our prayers. There are the residents of the larger community of Highland Park that now question their sense of safety because of these events. And, there are those professionals who are now providing care and healing for those with physical, emotional & spiritual needs.
The loss of any human life is tragic whenever it occurs. We are already in conversation and providing support for individuals and families who are affected by this trauma. Please join us in prayer for the shattered lives in Highland Park. Please join us in expressing profound gratitude for the intervention by Highland Park police that likely saved many other lives. Even amid tragedy, even when manifestations of evil threaten to overwhelm, let us hold fast to the good. It is the only way that leads to life.
We are providing you with additional resources that may be helpful in conversations with children, friends, family members and neighbors. There is a link listed below that will direct you to those resources. Additionally, we are in contact with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the Lutheran Disaster Response Team of Illinois and the FBI in providing assistance at the trauma resource center in Highland Park. Should anyone feel the need for additional pastoral care on a personal level, please reach out to one of us.
Rev Robert A. Davis, Rev Chris Neptun and Deaconess Katie Freund
Additional family resources from Deaconess Katie:
Dear families of Holy Cross,
We are with you in grief as we process the events of this weekend in Highland Park. This week has been one of heavy hearts and vulnerable conversations. In the office we have been holding all those affected as well as our Holy Cross community in prayer.
As we gathered resources to share with you, we found this blogpost: Picture Books That Help (booksforlittles.com) which offers up a great list of book titles for children. Among them you will find books that both address gun violence directly as well as fitting books that address congruent emotional messages without the mention of guns.
It was my intention to purchase A Kids Book About Shootings, from the same series we referred to at the start of the Ukraine conflict. However these books are currently out of stock at every distributor I . That in and of itself is telling of our current times.
But it was a conversation I had with our very own Pastor Bob that reminded me of the importance of centering our vision on hope rather than despair. Mr Rogers and his message to “look for the helpers” immediately came to mind. I’m including the link below for any of you who are as nostalgic as I am.
We know that during difficult times we are supposed to look toward God for our hope. But when we are surrounded by fresh pain and wounded by the brokenness of this world, the hope found in theological teachings can feel so very distant. The “easy” answer of Jesus loves you can feel disconnected from today’s sorrow.
Today, what gives me comfort and reminds me of the closeness of God is looking for the helpers. When the world around us falls apart and danger surrounds us, God rushes in. God shares in our sorrow.
To those raising our children, those who are grappling with questions of a maturing faith, remember that a faithful heart isn’t the same as blind optimism. We can weep and rage and question, and still God meets us on the bloodstained concrete. God helps us rebuild. Believe it or not, God doesn’t need you to feel “okay”.
There are a few small gestures that we are providing here at Holy Cross in an effort to help your family feel less alone in planning a way forward with our kids.
We are printing and laminating backpacking tags that say “Peace Be Upon You” that will be available in the narthex.
There will be new children’s books available that focus on emotional health and peace through a wider lens (without mentioning gun violence specifically.)
Both Pastors as well as myself are available to you, our families, and our community for one on one conversations. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Below I’ve collected a variety of articles that can be a resource for you as we wrestle with what to say (or not say) to our children during these difficult times:
This article has good content with main points in bold for those of us who appreciate being able to skim read.
Here is a thoughtful article originally from the Boston Globe that helps with how to navigate parenting in a world with gun violence. It’s thorough without being too lengthy.
The best article I’ve found for giving specific tips on how to talk about this topic with each different age group is this one.
There is also a Q&A session with Dr Jenna Glover, a child and adolescent psychologist at Children’s Hospital in Colorado, answering common questions caregivers have.
This piece is centered on caring for your own mental well-being during and after incidences of gun violence:
The reality is we have now learned that yes, these tragedies can happen “even here”. None of us are immune to the world’s brokenness. And God is with us in the grief that comes from that. But the story doesn’t end there. When we are ready, no matter how long that takes, God will be there to accompany us once more into a season of joyful abundance. No need to rush it. That’s not where we are this week. This week is heavy and we’re not alone.
In the peace and love of Christ,
Deaconess Katie Freund