Written by Bennett Guess
A tragic shooting in Missouri during the afternoon worship services of a Micronesian congregation on Aug. 12 has left three persons dead and others wounded.
While news reports have focused on the location of the shooting – First Congregational Church of Neosho, Mo. (which is not affiliated with the UCC) – the Micronesian congregation that was using the building at the time – United Church of Pohnpei – was preparing to be received into the UCC.
"Many people across the country heard the news of yesterday's tragic shooting at First Congregational Church, Neosho, MO. This is to confirm that the Micronesian congregation where the deaths and injuries occurred is, in fact, a congregation that had planned to join in fellowship with the Western Association of the Missouri Mid-South Conference next month," wrote the Rev. Char Burch, Interim Conference Minister, in an email.
Among those killed the church's pastor, the Rev. Kernel Rehobsen.
"Rev. Rehobsen is well known among our Missouri Mid-South Conference family, having spoken at several gatherings," Burch wrote.
Associate Conference Minister Dale Parson is in Neosho today providing support to church members and gathering more information.
"Please pray for all of the members of this congregation," Burch requested. "They do need our love, support and prayers."
The congregation's mother church, United Church of Christ in Pohnpei, is the UCC's partner church in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. The Rev. Xiaoling Zhu, the UCC/Disciples' area executive for East Asia for Global Ministries, was reaching out to the UCC's global partner to express the church's grief and offer its support.