The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Tree bears witness

Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was a victim of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, brought his message of reconciliation and forgiveness to Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, Va., just days after Timothy McVeigh was executed for the crime.

Welch has spoken against the death penalty since meeting McVeigh's family. He realized that McVeigh's father "was a man who had lost his child, too, who knew a depth of pain like mine."

Welch helped plant an elm tree at the church — a seedling from the tree nearly destroyed in the bombing and now serving as a memorial in Oklahoma City. Muhlenberg member Greg Pfaff, a witness against Tim McVeigh in court, gave the "victim-survivor-witness" tree to the church.

"We pray for the Spirit of God and the power of Christ's resurrection to move us beyond all tragedies we will ever face," said Joe Vought, Muhlenberg's pastor. "We pray that with the Spirit's help and the life of Jesus in us, we will move beyond our personal tragedies to being survivors and then, more than that, to being witnesses to the amazing grace, eternal love and transforming forgiveness of God. Hey, if you don't believe that it can happen, take a look at the little tree in our front yard."


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February issue


Embracing diversity