Monday night was a time for grieving and healing at Unitarian-Universalist Church of Lexington.
About 60 people gathered at the church for a special service, held in light of an attack at a sister church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday that left two people dead and seven injured.
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“We were attacked … It is ‘we' because of our values,” said the Rev. Kelly Flood, minister emeritus of the Lexington church, noting that the church opens its doors to transgender and bisexual people, gays and lesbians, and people who believe there is no God.
The Unitarian-Universalist Church has paid a price for being compassionate toward people from all walks of life; the country is paying a price by denying its liberal religious voice for so long, Flood said.
“Help us find compassion for this wounded man that has left this legacy of death,” she said of the lone gunman who opened fire inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian-Universalist Church in Knoxville.
Jim Adkisson, 58, has been charged with murder.
Nine lit candles in honor of the dead and injured sat on a table at the front of the Lexington church. Those attending the service sang the hymn Spirit of Life, observed a moment of silence, and talked among themselves about where they were and how they felt when they heard news of the attack.
“At the heart of my message is the legacy of courage that defines Unitarian-Universalists throughout the generations,” Flood said before the service. “It's a legacy that has consequences that are sometimes fatal. In spite of this truth, we choose to stand together and continue to proclaim love in the face of hate.”
One of the people killed in the Tennessee shooting — 61-year-old Linda Kraeger — was a member of Westside Unitarian-Universalist Church in Farragut, Tenn., near Knoxville, which is pastored by the Rev. Mitra Jafarzedah, a former member of the Lexington church, members said.