The faith community is responding to the horrific shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, taking the lives of 19 children and two adults, including one teacher.
"My heart is broken today. We're a small community and we're going to need your prayers to get through this," Uvalde Superintendent Hal Harrell said. All school activities have been canceled until further notice.
Uvalde is a town of roughly 16,000 residents located about 85 miles west of San Antonio. Tuesday's shooting was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history and came almost 10 years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Sandy Hook shooting left 28 people dead and two wounded.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has dispatched ministers to South Texas to minister to the grief-stricken community.
"Please stop and pray for those in Uvalde, Texas," SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick tweeted Tuesday evening. "We have been in touch with SBTC pastors on the ground. This is tragic and this community needs our prayers."
SBTC Associate Executive Director Tony Wolfe offered three ways to pray in the aftermath of the shooting, according to The Baptist Press.
- Pray that the God of all comfort will heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds. The tragedy is unspeakable. The pain is unbearable. God, have mercy.
- Pray for emotional and physical endurance for first responders and crisis volunteers on the ground. May their hands be steady, their minds sharp, and their hearts soft.
- Pray for heavenly wisdom among local, state, and national policymakers. This tragedy should be unheard of; instead, it is has become all too common. We must do better for our children. God, help us do better for our children.
The First Presbyterian Church in Uvalde has scheduled a prayer service for the community at 6:30 pm Central Time tonight at the church located at 300 N. Getty Street. The service will be live-streamed on the church's Facebook page.
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains have also deployed to Uvalde to offer comfort and counsel to the families and other residents.
"As a father of four young children, my heart is heavy to hear about this tragic mass shooting at an elementary school," said Josh Holland, international director of the BG-RRT. "We are sending our crisis-trained chaplains to comfort people, listen and cry with them, pray with them and share God's love with those who have been impacted by this horrific tragedy."
The BG-RRT's Mobile Ministry Center will be on hand as a quiet place where people can talk with chaplains.
"We grieve what happened today," Mickey Lenamon, TBM executive director/CEO, said. "This tragedy is impacting every member of the Uvalde community right now. Please pray for the city during this extremely difficult time."
The chaplains will help people share and work through their emotions in the wake of the shooting. They will be working alongside Uvalde church leaders throughout the city.
"Our chaplains will offer a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, an encouraging word, and an offer of prayer," Lenamon said. "They serve as a reminder to the community that people care about them and God cares about them."
Meanwhile, Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, which is located across the street from Robb Elementary School, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening that it would be assisting families of the shooting victims with no cost for funerals.