3 Louisville-area United Methodist churches hold prayer vigils after shooting

April 10, 2023
By Alan Wild

Christ Church UM senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Eric Bryant (plaid shirt), prays with an attendee at the prayer vigil held at his church.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Prayer vigils held at three Louisville-area United Methodist churches in response to a deadly shooting spree drew a total of about 150 people – people who needed the opportunity to pray and to begin processing the horrific events of Monday morning:
  • Christ Church United Methodist held a come-and-go candlelight prayer gathering from 5-7 p.m. More than 100 people attended and had the opportunity to pray with church staff, pray independently or light candles, said the Rev. Dr. Eric Bryant, senior pastor.
  • St. Matthews UMC held a vigil from 5:30-7 p.m. that began with a short time of organized worship, then the sanctuary remained open for people to come and pray quietly and light a candle in front of the altar. About two dozen people attended, said the Rev. Adam Sparks, senior pastor.
  • Crestwood UMC held a short prayer service at 6:30 p.m. attended by about 30 people, said the Rev. Derek Robinette, senior pastor. They sang a few hymns, had a time of silent prayer and an opportunity to light candles and read the Methodist Social Affirmation and the Affirmation from Romans, both in the UMC Hymnal, said the Rev. Dr. John Hatton, superintendent of the Kentucky Annual Conference’s Heartland District.
At Christ Church, people could use a printed prayer guide that said, in part: “We do come before you, Oh God, seeking the risen Christ. We seek to be like him … to love like him … to have his compassion … to have his faith … to have his ability to heal those who hurt and suffer with his great love.”

St. Matthews used A Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy from “Every Moment Holy: Death, Grief, and Hope,” by Douglas McKelvey. It said, in part, “Be present in the midst of this far-reaching pain, O Lord, for we are reeling again, at news of another loss of life that touches us all; news of flourishing diminished; of individuals harmed; of pain imposed; not only upon victims and their families who bear now the immediate brunt of it – but also upon our city. For we are connected as a people, and this hurt, this grief, touches us all.”

Hatton’s district includes Louisville, site of Monday’s attack. Crestwood is a bedroom community to the city. Downtown Louisville, where the shooting took place, is about 20-25 minutes away by car.

“Folks need to know we care and are taking action,” Hatton said by text after attending the vigil at Crestwood.

Earlier in the day, as the scope of the tragedy grew, he drafted a letter that he sent to all active clergy in the district, calling on Christians to confront evil head-on.

“As a people of the Covenant; as a people whose hearts ring in tune with Jesus’, as a people of life called to give life to others, and as a Kingdom of believers with Christ as our head, it is time for Christians to speak prophetically into the sin of mass shootings and violence. If we avoid the conversation, we lose our moral authority,” the letter said.

“We are a people of life and we worship a Savior who is the Truth and the Life. We celebrated the power of resurrection yesterday at church. We marveled once again at the empty grave and the Lordship of Jesus over death. Yet we stand at another grave’s door on this day and we must work for the preservation of life in this world while we give thanks for everlasting life to come.”

Five people, including the shooter, died. Nine others – among them two police officers – were wounded in the incident at the downtown office building. The four victims were executives of a bank housed in the building. The shooter was an employee of the bank, according to local media reports.

See a photo gallery of all prayer vigils held Monday, April 10, 2023.