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UCC churches near shootings pass paper cranes

Everett United Church of Christ dedicated 1,000 folded paper cranes on July 5 and sent them to Circular United Church of Christ, a few blocks from the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., the site of the recent shooting massacre.    

paper cranes

Covey of paper cranes brings love, strength and hope. Photo courtesy of Everett UCC

The cranes have been on prominent display in the Everett church since killings six miles away at Marysville Pilchuk High School last Oct. 24.  A 15-year-old student shot five students before killing himself. Two of the five died at the scene.  Two of those wounded died later, and one lived.

A Santa Barbara, Calif., UCC church, which was near a similar tragedy, sent the cranes after learning about Everett.  

Becky Withington, then the pastor at Everett and mother of a high school senior, was “stunned and horrified to have such an awful event hit so close to home.”  She offered prayer, support and pastoral counseling to church families experiencing anxiety and grief.  There were vigils at several churches.

The next Sunday, the Rev. Mimi Lane, a retired chaplain who had served at the hospital where the wounded teens were, preached.  Several students and former students came.

As she greeted the teens after the service, “there were hugs and more tears,” Mimi said. In the fellowship time, people also reached out to them.

The Santa Barbara church had received the 1,000 cranes from the Newtown, Conn., UCC where 20 children were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012.

The paper cranes are sent to bring love, strength and hope at a time of pain and sorrow, to assure the community of the solidarity of sister churches in communities of other tragedies.  

The liturgy to bless the cranes as they go to their destination says: “We send these peace cranes as a sign and testament to our hope for peace with justice in our world and our belief that violence does not have the last word.  We send them carrying our love that it may energize overcoming of hate and racism.  We ask God’s blessing on their flight and on their new resting place that once again these humble peace cranes may testify to the presence of God in the midst of trouble.”

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Copyright © September/October 2015 - Pacific Northwest UCC Conference News


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