Friday, June 6, 2014

How Seattle Pacific University Faces Tragedy

Photo by Jordan Stead, Seattle PI
By now you probably know that there was a shooting at Seattle Pacific University yesterday. One young man is dead, a young woman is in critical condition, a male student is still in the hospital and another has been released. The shooter has been arrested.

Last night there was a prayer meeting with so many attending that, even with closed circuit TVs in an overflow room, not everyone was able to get into the church, prompting groups to form on the nearby lawn to pray. Another prayer meeting will take place at noon today.

We are reminded through this tragedy that being a Christian university does not insulate against trouble and grief. But it does provide a way to respond to it.

My mind returns to 1970, my sophomore year at SPC (we were still a college then). It was winter quarter and one day in chapel we had speakers who told us about the revival that was happening on the campus of Asbury College in Kentucky. During that hour we were transfixed, and many acknowledged our longing for God to work in our own lives like He was doing in those at Asbury. Students went to the altar to pray. We confessed their sins to God and made restitution with one another. The service went on for hours, for days, as the Lord called us to come to Him. The impact of that revival is still being felt.

Photo from the Asbury University archives
In 1970 the US was fully engaged in the Vietnam War, and protests against the war were heating up. In Seattle we experienced conflicts between police and protesters, as was happening around the country. 
police vs. protesters in downtown Seattle, February 17, 1970.
Photo credit: Barry Sweet 
On May 4 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students that were demonstrating at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others. Hundreds of schools were shut down as four million students went on strike across the nation.

Students at the University of Washington went on strike and planned a rally that turned into an inpromptu march on the freeway to downtown Seattle. We were feeling very nervous at SPC, not knowing what might happen on our own campus. Would we face violence at Seattle Pacific?

I lived in Marston/Watson and Townie (Opal Townsend, our resident director) called a dorm meeting in the Lower Marston lounge. She talked about our anxieties, then turned us to the 91st Psalm.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.  (Psalm 91:1-2, 5-6, 15-16)
As she read we found great comfort and peace. As I remember it, we had no significant trouble during those volitale days. We also had the assurance of God's presence with us, no matter what. It is the same assurance that the faculty, staff and students at SPU are drawing upon now as they face this current trouble. It is found in Christ alone.

1 comment:

Joan Husby said...

Thanks for the memories, Ginger. I was busy with a young family and had just moved to Alaska, so that period in Seattle was somewhat removed from my experience. But it's so good to know that the God who was faithful at SPC then is the God who is faithful now at SPU.