In the days after the March 21 shooting at Red Lake [Minn.] High School, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota offered counseling and trauma support for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and area residents. Many ELCA congregations, clergy and individuals also rushed to offer support after Jeff Wiese, 16, shot and killed 10 people, including himself. Wiese also shot and killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion.
Principal Chris Dunshee, a member of First Lutheran Church, Bemidji, Minn., was at a nearby meeting during the shooting. "I could hear the shots going off," he told National Public Radio. "All of this transpired [within] five to 10 minutes." He went through the hallways to help clear the school so police could take over.
Before the shooting, Dunshee said, the school's biggest challenge was meeting "No Child Left Behind" guidelines and raising test scores: "Test scores aren't going to be the most important thing anymore. It's getting these kids healed."
At presstime, LSSM and Lutheran Disaster Response were networking with ministries already active in the Red Lake area. "As the impact of loss begins to sink in, people need to provide long-term grief support," said Melanie Josephson Davis, of LSSM.
That support was evident at Calvary Lutheran Church, Bemidji, where messages on a banner remembered teacher Neva Rogers, 62, whose funeral was held there. 'she symbolizes and embodies all teachers everywhere," said Genelle Netland, pastor. 'she had the courage, the presence of mind, to care about others with all of herself."
All Nations Indian Church, Minneapolis, gave gas cards and food money to urban Indians traveling back and forth from the Twin Cities to the reservation. Northwestern Minnesota Synod Bishop Rolf Wangberg asked synod leaders to pray for families connected to the tragedy, for school staff and students, and for congregations in ministry to the community.
To help, send financial gifts to ELCA Domestic Disaster Reponse, PO Box 71764, Chicago, ILL 60694-1764; (800) 638-3522; www.elca.org/disaster/ddrgive.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers