In the days following Pentecost Sunday, Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kan., surrounded the family of George Tiller, 67, who was shot and killed in the narthex before worship. Tiller, who was an usher that day, was one of a few doctors who perform late-term abortions in this country.
Tiller’s wife, Jeanne, was in the church basement with the choir when Scott P. Roeder, 51, allegedly shot and killed Tiller. Roeder was charged with murder as well as aggravated assault toward two ushers who tried to apprehend him.
Family and friends gathered at Reformation the night of the shooting, where the message was “love is stronger than hate,” said Lowell Michelson, a pastor of Reformation.
Both Tiller and the Women’s Health Care Services where he worked have long been the focus of protests by abortion opponents. He was shot and wounded in both arms in 1993. The clinic was bombed in 1986 and had been vandalized days before the May 31 shooting.
Michelson and associate pastor Kristin Neitzel posted a statement on the church’s Web site: “Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.”
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