Two of the five Mennonite Brethren congregations in the Denver metro area were directly impacted by the Dec. 13 shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo.
Three families from Trailhead Church, the MB congregation in Centennial, have students at AHS, including two teens who were on the cross country team with the shooter.
The only AHS student attending Belleview Community Church, an MB congregation in Littleton, was not in school that day, said Pastor Mike Andrews, who spent time with the family after the incident.
The shooting prompted lockdowns at all 24 Littleton public schools, a security precaution that affected additional Trailhead families as well as households that are part of The Micah Project, an MB church plant in Littleton.
“I think for most of us at Trailhead and in this community, [the school shooting] served as another reminder that evil is real, and we are not in control,” said Trailhead lead pastor Trevor Lee by email. “I heard a number of people with younger children talking about how this shattered their illusion that they can always keep their kids safe.”
AHS senior Karl Pierson entered the school with a shotgun, fired one round down a hallway and then shot student Claire Davis, who died Dec. 21 from her injuries. The 18-year-old shooter killed himself as a security officer closed in.
AHS students and families who are part of Trailhead, the victims, the shooter’s family and the community were the focus of a prayer time that was added to a Vespers service already planned at Trailhead that evening. The congregation offered similar prayers on Sunday, Dec. 15.
“Both services were already focused on waiting for and longing for the coming of the kingdom of God, when all things will be made right and evil finally defeated,” Lee said.
On Sunday the Belleview congregation and Garden Park MB Church in Denver also acknowledged and prayed for the families impacted by the shooting.
Vaughn Jost, pastor of The Micah Project, said it was a testimony of unity that churches holding prayer vigils Friday night blanketed the community with invitations to join them.
“As tragic as these events are, I’m convinced it’s a time when the body of Christ can show we’re unified beyond the walls of any one congregation,” he said.