Tucson shootings become part of the sermon at East Valley churches - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Tucson shootings become part of the sermon at East Valley churches

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Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 4:48 pm | Updated: 9:50 pm, Tue Jan 11, 2011.

National tragedy often sparks prayer and discussion time during church the following Sunday, and it was no different in East Valley worship services a day after six people were killed and 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were wounded in a Tucson shooting.

At Chandler Christian Church, prayer time was devoted in all services.

"Combined with the standoff at Chandler Mall (last week), it hit really hard here," pastor Roger Storms said. "We prayed for those involved and addressed the emotions of people's fear and insecurities as a result of an incident like that. All that forces people to look at their own mortality to a degree, as well as the uncertainty in the world."

The Tucson incident was woven into the sermon by teaching pastor Darryl DelHousaye at Grace Community Church in Tempe. The tragedy fit the planned sermon subject - that God is glorified in unfortunate circumstances, with citations from the books of Job and John - outreach pastor Ken Kohlmeier said.

"He was able to incorporate it into what he already had, because it was certainly relevant," Kohlmeier said. "There are many questions that come to mind at a time like this, and scripture has a lot to say about it. People ask where God is in all of it."

Services at Central Christian Church's Mesa campus ended with prayer time, pastor Perry Emerick said.

"We prayed for wisdom and calmness to prevail, and for things to not get out of hand," Emerick said. "There were a lot of lives ended, changed and turned upside down, so we prayed for the victims and our state and national leaders as they try to process the whole thing."

With suspected shooter Jared Loughner's motivations not completely known, Sunday was too soon to craft a church message on aggravating circumstances, the pastors said. Storms added that, sometimes, the message is simply that the Bible says that the world is fallen and broken, and as a result, bad things happen to good people.

"You cannot explain an irrational act by an irrational person in a rational way," Storms said. "It's impossible. For us to try and understand it does not work. The thing we try to convey as a church is that we have an anchor to hold onto no matter what happens around us."

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