Following an attack on more than 20 people stabbed or slashed at a Pennsylvania high school, Emmanuel Reformed United Church of Christ is taking the lead in community support, bringing together faith partners and local businesses to brainstorm different ways to help students recover from the trauma.
Trista Lucas, who is director of Christian education at Emmanuel Reformed in Export, Penn., organized the community gathering on Friday, April 11.
"We want to get the community together and see what efforts we can put into motion that we can support, and what else we think needs to be done," Lucas said. "Our resources together are better than working separate."
Emmanuel UCC is located just a few miles away from Franklin Regional Senior High School, where on Wednesday a student wielding two kitchen knives went after 20 of his classmates and a security guard. The accused attacker, a 16-year old male, was tackled by an assistant principal before police took him into custody.
So far, no one has died from their injuries, but a local doctor told reporters that four victims are in critical condition. Lucas said some of the first responders who arrived at the high school after authorities were called are members of Emmanuel Reformed.
The violence has touched the congregation in many ways. Lucas pointed out that the children of Emmanuel Reformed UCC's pastor attend the school, as does a boy scout in the congregation who was injured and released from the hospital the same day. It was unclear if the boy was attacked or injured some other way. Lucas also said the babysitter of an Emmanuel Reformed member who attends Franklin Regional saw her friend attacked at school.
"After something like this we almost immediately ask ourselves, 'Why?' To begin to move past it, we have to ask, 'What can we do?'," Lucas said.
Lucas plans to keep a community calendar on the congregation's website, listing any events or outreach that may come from Friday's meeting at the Murraysville Sport Zone, which is located near the high school. Lucas said that location was chosen as it was more neutral, would make everyone feel more welcome, and can accommodate a large crowd.
"If nothing else, it would be good for us as a community to get together and keep each other informed," Lucas said.