A time to heal

Area clergy talk faith in wake of Las Vegas massacre

Many Central Iowans were shocked when news broke that dozens had been killed and hundreds more injured at a country music concert in Las Vegas Sunday night, and area faith leaders say now is a time for healing.

“Faith, it’s kind of an anchor for us during times like this,” said Pastor Dan Vellinga of First Congregational Church in Marshalltown. “I’m sure that, in all the churches during this coming Sunday and at prayer meetings and Bible studies and all sorts of things like that, there will be people praying for Las Vegas, no doubt.”

In the face of a tragedy like the Las Vegas shooting, many faith leaders said now is a time to heal.

“It’s incredibly difficult, and I think that the core centerpiece of hope, faith and love is drastically important, not only when things are good, but when things are broken, when systems are broken,” said Pastor Dylan Does of Restore Church in Marshalltown. “How can we change what we’re doing? Because what we’re doing is not working.”

Pastor Scott Lothe of the Laurel United Methodist Church said the reason some may struggle with the news is because it brings them to a realization.

“All of us just live our lives thinking that today’s going to be just like yesterday,” he said. “An event like this happens, and all of us realize that life can end in a moment … it brings us to that reality.”

Lothe added that the best thing for people to do in response to such a tragedy is to “reach out and gather in that beloved community, whatever that is for them … and to together face that reality, and to give thanks for today.”

In Marshalltown, St. Henry Catholic Church Pastoral Associate Karen Mroz said tragedies like the shooting can bring out the best in people.

“Very often, people gather together in prayer … instead of turning inward, it helps people to turn out and help others; that is a very positive and necessary part of the healing process,” she said. “When we turn inwards, we tend to fall into despair, but when we can turn outwards and help others, maybe we can give a little hope.”

For those seeking guidance or solace, Pastor Jennifer Daniel of the Iowa River Church of the Brethren in Marshalltown said she will spread a message of hope.

“I’m going to tell people that there is hope in these situations,” she said. “We do need to lean on our faith; it’s more than just a crutch, it actually works.”

Daniel said violence has always existed, and it’s important in today’s world to seek out and help those who are struggling or suffering.

“We can’t wait around and hope that they come to us, we’ve got to be proactive and go to them,” she said. “We’ve got to reach out beyond the doors of the church, beyond the organizations that are set up to help people so that they don’t come to [that] place of hopelessness.”

Pastor Gregg Davison of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Marshalltown said he is praying for love and courage in the aftermath of the shooting.

“Love brings me into solidarity with the victims and their families,” he said. “There is much darkness, hate and sin in the world and so I pray for the courage to not be overcome by it, but to face it.”

Does said he believes there is solace in God. He said things will be made right through justice, but not vengeance.

“We are only here for a moment or a season,” said Lothe. “We hug, and we draw close our family, and give thanks for them, and then together we say a prayer for those whose families have been torn apart by violence.”

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com