In the aftermath of yesterday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, pastors and faith leaders are lamenting the loss of life. Some are calling for action and change, saying “thoughts and prayers” alone won’t prevent future gun-related tragedies. Others admit solutions are tough, especially because Americans have the constitutional right to bear arms.
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman allegedly shot his grandmother before entering Robb Elementary and killing 19 students and two teachers. All the deaths occurred in two adjoining classrooms, authorities said Wednesday. A border patrol agent responding to the scene shot and killed the suspect, who had attended high school in Uvalde. The tight-knit community of about 16,000 people is located 70 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The massacre occurred just 10 days after 10 people were shot and killed in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
Local Pastor: ‘God Is Still God, and He Is Able to Heal’
Doug Swimmer, pastor of The Potter’s House Church of Uvalde, spoke about his grieving town on “Good Morning America” Wednesday. “It’s been very difficult for me as a pastor to see our community in this tragic time,” he admitted. “But I know one thing that is going to help us through is God’s grace and God’s love.”
Swimmer, who has been praying with victims’ families at the hospital, said, “When you see these families broken in this manner, what the world needs and what our community needs is a light that shines in the darkness.” Although tragedies will always occur, the pastor added, “God is still God, and he is able to heal. He is able to bring comfort in times of distress.”
Christians Share Anguish Via Social Media
Social media quickly filled with expressions of grief, prayer, and anger. The adjective “unimaginable” became a common refrain, yet some people noted that mass shootings, even of children, have become “the most imaginable thing in America.” Others criticized pro-life advocates for trying to protect children in the womb but not in classrooms.
Christian leaders shared their heartbreak and prayers, asking for God’s mercy and comfort. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, tweeted: “Weep with those who weep. The deadly shooting in Uvalde puts us on our knees. May the God of all comfort be near to the broken-hearted.”
California pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, tweeted: “My heart breaks for Texas; children massacred, teacher killed. Praying for healing. Something is definitely broken. God, please heal our land, in Jesus name!”
James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, wrote: “My heart is crushed for the parents of the children and the families of the teachers who were killed. May the Lord grant peace grace and mercy in this time of need.”
Dare2Share founder Greg Stier, whose ministry path was impacted by the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, tweeted: “This is horrific…. My wife is a 5th grade public school teacher. I can’t help but imagine the anguish being suffered by kids, parents & teachers right now. Join me in prayer for them all.”
Faith Leaders Focus on Uvalde, Texas
Faith-based groups began mobilizing to provide comfort to Uvalde residents. Chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are heading to the town. In his tweet about their deployment, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association president and CEO Franklin Graham wrote: “As our chaplains minister in this hurting community, please keep those who have lost loved ones in your prayers.”