In the aftermath of a fatal on-campus shooting, hundreds of voices rang out from First Free Methodist Church on Friday afternoon. Mere blocks from the shooting scene, students, faculty and staff, and community members filled the church with words of prayer, worship and lamentation.
Though teary-eyed while singing hymns, attendees sat in front of flickering candles representative of hope and healing.
“We now walk a difficult path ahead… We carry our pain … our anger and confusion,” Assistant Director for University Ministries Bob Zurinsky said. “Things are not yet well. But this is our starting point.”
The prayer service was the second of two held at FFMC following the shooting of freshman Paul Lee, sophomore Sarah Williams and senior Thomas Fowler on Thursday by 26-year-old Aaron R. Ybarra. Harborview Medical Center doctors pronounced Lee dead when he arrived at the hospital on Thursday night. Williams was upgraded to serious condition and moved out of the Intensive Care Unit on Sunday. Fowler was released from the hospital Friday night.
During the prayer service, Vice President for Student Life Jeff Jordan thanked the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Fire Department for a quick and effective response on Thursday. He also thanked the Seattle community for their outpouring of love.
“I want to express my gratitude to [all of you] who are doing so much behind the scenes that you do not see to allow us to lament and grieve,” Jordan said. “…It has sustained us.”
In between songs, students and staff members recited excerpts from the Bible that mirrored their feelings about the shooting, including Romans 8, Psalm 121, 2Corinthians 4 and 1Corinthians 15. Students also broke into groups to pray for the victims and families affected by the shooting.
The first service, held Thursday night at 7 p.m., had about 1,000 students in attendance. Students who couldn’t make it into the service formed prayer groups in SPU’s Tiffany Loop. During the first service, Professor of Old Testament Frank Spina delivered a short message on the importance of not letting the clichés of Christian faith prevent students from feeling the pain they need to feel.
Friday’s service was streamed live via the FFMC website to the FFMC gym, Upper Gwinn Commons and Royal Brougham Pavilion.
FFMC Senior Pastor Blake Wood delivered the service’s closing prayer.
“May God enable you to realize that he is here for you,” Wood said. “May he also make you an agent of comfort … May he make you an agent of his life-giving goodness… Death doesn’t have the last word.”