All of us have been shocked by the senseless violence at Virginia Tech University, and as the news stories unfold there seems to be an unfolding horror in our hearts over these killings. The fact that students, young people with such a bright future ahead of them, are the victims – surely that adds to our sense of grief and our sense of horror. Such violence is all too common elsewhere in the world, in places like Iraq and Darfur, but we in the United States have been shocked once again with the reality of the violence in our own society.

As pastors prepare to lead their congregations this Sunday, there are many very helpful worship resources and prayers available. As always our General Board of Discipleship has worship helps, including special prayers for this tragedy. You can find those at

Another helpful site is The Text This Week which is found at It offers similar worship aids for us as we all prepare this Sunday to worship, to pray, and to make sense out of life in the midst of tragedy.

It seems that our culture and the news are bent upon either understanding or revenge. We find in our home that it helps just to turn off that news, because the endless coverage is not helpful and it only adds to the sense of grief.

At such moments, it is not a time to “figure out what happened” or to get angry and look for quick solutions. Rather it is a time to pray. The Apostle Paul reminds us that there are times in life when words fail us and we don’t even know how to pray. At such times, he promises, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray “in ways that cannot be put into words” (Romans 8:26). This is such a time. Today and especially this Sunday in our worship services, I invite you to be silent, to pray, and to allow the Spirit to speak for us.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner