The Real Stories in the Seattle Pacific University Shooting

With Cable news channels predictably focused on the shooter, we thought we’d give you some more important perspectives to guide your prayers.

After the Shooting At SPU: Desolation, Consolation… Hope

We’ll always be that small Christian college in Seattle that had the shooting. The name will reverberate. Columbine. Virginia Tech. SPU. Yet this community is so much more than a now infamous acronym.

by Jack Levison • Seattle Pacific University Professor

Students pray on lawn at SPU after shooting at the school.I expected the shock of an earthquake–not a shooting. In fact, they’re retrofitting our oldest building, Alexander Hall, to prevent earthquake damage. How do we retrofit Otto Miller Hall lobby, where yesterday’s shooting took place? Erase the memories?

Sure, we can remove the blood-stained carpet, paint the blood-splattered walls, clean up the shell casings.

But the lobby, which I’ve walked through hundreds of times on my way to class, where I’ve casually picked up a free copy of the New York Times, where students gather to study and chat, will always be the place where “the shooting” happened. We’ll always be that small Christian college in Seattle that had the shooting. The name will reverberate. Columbine. Virginia Tech. SPU.

Yet this community is so much more than a now infamous acronym.

Last night I sat with a group of students. The scheduled prayer service was packed, overflowing, so my wife Priscilla and I, both SPU faculty, were directed to a makeshift mass of students sitting in small groups in the evening light on The Loop, the central grassy area on campus, which sits less than a football field from Otto Miller Hall. Priscilla started us off in prayer with the words, “Gracious God.” Then we mostly sat silent, bewildered.

None of them, not one, asked God to make things right. They sat in grief.

None of them, not one, found easy solutions. They sat in unknowing.

None of them, not one, filled the air with clichés or cheap prayers. They sat in silence.

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At faith-based Seattle Pacific University, grief without despair

Students’ prayerful and grieving but hopeful response to the violence at Seattle Pacific University highlights the deep faith many on campus share. “Our darkest day and our finest hour,” said one professor.

 by Janet I. Tu  • Seattle Times staff reporter

Lindsey Wasson: The Seattle Times

In the hours after a gunman killed one Seattle Pacific University student and wounded two others, what struck many was the way the students responded.

They clasped hands in prayer circles; lifted their voices together to sing hymns; prayed for the shooter as well as the victims.

“I have never been more proud of this institution,” Richard Steele, a professor in SPU’s School of Theology, wrote in an email to friends. “The faith, courage and calmness were just stunning,”

The response of the students, faculty and staff to Thursday’s startling violence highlights the role of religious belief at SPU. The small evangelical Christian college, on the north slope of Queen Anne Hill, stands out in the Seattle area for the degree to which it works on developing students’ faith and for fostering a tight-knit community.

All undergraduates must take at least three courses in theology, and are encouraged to attend worship services, Bible studies, Bible retreats and other such activities to nurture their faith… Community is emphasized, with students encouraged to participate in activities through their academic majors, residence halls, campus leadership positions, or through ministry or volunteer service.

All of that — and especially his theology classes and relationships with others at SPU — helped develop the faith of Alex Piasecki, a 21-year-old junior majoring in theology.

SPU Ashton Hall (Twitter)

He is drawing from that faith now, even though “I don’t know if there’s any way of making sense of what happened,” Piasecki said. “I’m placing a lot of faith in God at this time. It’s a new thing for all of us. It’s very hard to go through. I truly believe that God is the ultimate healer and redeemer. We’re just going to have to be patient through this process.”

In light of the school’s emphasis on faith- and community-building, it did not surprise Bob Zurinsky, SPU’s assistant director of university ministries, that students, faculty and staff responded the way they did.

“What we’ve witnessed at SPU,” he said, “has been not so much a reactive burst of energy, but rather a deep response that reflects many years of immersion in the practice of grace, worship and life together.”

During last week’s prayer services, the first held only hours after the shootings, “each of us felt the weight of this horror and grief, but we were not lost,” Zurinsky said. “The essence of the Christian faith that we teach and try to embody on this campus gave us the words and the vision we were looking for.”

He added, “The central proclamation of our faith is that our crucified Lord was raised back to life. God has the power and the will to restore and redeem all that has been terrorized and lost.”

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SPU Hero Asks That Further Donations Go To Victims

After an outpouring of wedding registry gifts for he and his fiance, SPU hero Jon Meis asks for any further donations to go to victims of the tragedy

by Jon Meis • Seattle Pacific University Website

Pray for SPUTo my brothers and sisters at Seattle Pacific University, and my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the nation and the world,

Words cannot come close to expressing the tragedy that occurred this past week on our campus. Like everyone else, I would hear of these horrible events on the news, but go home knowing that it could never happen to us. On Thursday, my life changed. I was thrown into a life and death situation, and through God’s grace I was able to stop the attacker and walk away unharmed. As I try to return to a normal life in the aftermath of this horrible event, I pray above all things for strength for the victims and their families. While my experience left me in physical shock, I know that many people are dealing with much greater grief than I have experienced, and in honesty I probably would not be able to handle it myself right now if I had personally known the victims.

I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested I find this hard to accept. I am indeed a quiet and private individual; while I have imagined what it would be like to save a life I never believed I would be put in such a situation. It touches me truly and deeply to read online that parents are telling their children about me and telling them that real heroes do exist.

However, what I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy…

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Mourning with Seattle Pacific University. Remembering Paul Lee – SPU freshman. Rest in peace.

Another day. Another shooting. Everyday lives impacted and scarred forever. An innocent life lost.

by Eugene Cho  Quest Church, Seattle

victim3The last day or so has been a blur. We live in a world where one can point to numerous recent examples of senseless shootings. Just typing that is infuriating. It happens in neighborhoods, street corners, houses, navy yards, sororities, and schools of all levels. Remember Sandy Hook?  Heck, two men were shot and killed just this past weekend in Central Seattle. But when you watch it or read it on the news (likely on your smartphone or tablet), you can’t possibly fathom it happening in “your school.” Well, yesterday, on a nearly perfect 72 degree Seattle day, that shooting took place at Seattle Pacific University.

And while SPU is not technically my school, it’s the closest thing to a school being your school without one graduating from that school.

SPU is located about a mile from Quest Church where I pastor. Numerous professors and administrators worship at Quest. Numerous. Several dozen undergrad and graduate students (and alumni) also worship there.  My wife, Minhee, recently completed graduate school at SPU. Several of my church staff went to school there. Q Cafe’s manager went to school there. One of our baristas is a freshman there. Couple of One Day’s Wages’ interns go to school there. My kids do summer basketball camps there.

It’s surreal. It’s painful.

While two were wounded but on the road to recovery, one was tragically killed. It is painful no matter what. And even more so when a nameless, faceless victim becomes named and identified. Couple hours ago, this faceless and nameless victim was identified. It was inevitable. It becomes even more painful and surreal when it is someone you’ve met.

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Inspiring moments after the Seattle Pacific shooting tragedy