The sound of gunfire haunts Terry Carter.
She and the young students in her Bible class barricaded a classroom door one week ago as a masked man opened fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, killing one woman and injuring the minister and six others, police said.
The shooter did not go into the classroom, but the Sunday morning mayhem clings to Carter’s thoughts.
“You can’t get some of the stuff out of your head for a while,” Carter said. “I’ll gradually get there. But those sounds. The pop.”
Carter and other members of the small Antioch church are trying to process what happened in the violent attack. In the midst of the pain and big unanswered questions, the congregation is moving forward.
The crime scene tape is gone and so is the carpet in the chapel. The 25-year-old suspect, Emanuel Samson, is in jail on a homicide charge. They have buried 38-year-old Melanie Crow, who was gunned down at the end of last week’s service. And the victims who remain in the hospital are in stable condition.
Rhythms of worship, Bible study therapeutic
Through it all, worship continues.
One week after the shooter traumatized their lives, the congregation will meet in the fellowship hall for its regularly scheduled 10 a.m. Sunday service. That is where members gathered for their midweek meeting, too.
Continuing to hold services offers stability in an unstable time, said the Rev. Emilie Townes, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School. Other congregations victimized by gun violence also have made that decision.
“It helps the membership realize that this incident, as terrible as it is, it’s not the final thing that God wants for them in their lives,” Townes said. “Getting back into the rhythms of worship and Bible study is often very therapeutic for folks.”
As dusk settled on the southeastern outskirts of Nashville on Wednesday evening, church and community members filed into Burnette Chapel’s fellowship hall for the congregation’s midweek service.
Inside, more than 40 people sat in folding chairs at round white tables singing “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” with hymn books opened in front of them. Speakers prayed and read Scriptures aloud.
Scott Sage, vice president of church relations at Lipscomb University, bowed his head and asked God to receive Crow’s spirit. He also prayed that God’s love would be shared with the congregation and community in the days ahead.
“That you might remind us to forgive our enemies, to bless those who persecute us and to strive to minister to one another in the name of Christ,” Sage said.
SOURCE: Holly Meyer, USA TODAY NETWORK