FRANKFORT, Ky. — Churches in Kentucky took time on Sunday to pray for those affected by Tuesday’s school shooting in Benton, which took the lives of two students and injured more than a dozen others, after Gov. Matt Bevin declared the day to be a statewide day of prayer.
“We have seen evil and the face of evil as it has emerged, and the acts it has perpetrated on this community,” he said on Friday. “But I’ll tell you what’s stronger than evil: it’s good, and in the end, God wins. That’s a fact.”
Last Tuesday, 15-year-old sophomore Gabe Parker walked into Marshall County High School with a handgun and began firing, causing students to pour out of the building as they ran for their lives.
“You could see students dropping their bags and just start running, pushing past each other,” student Taylor Droke told WZTV. “Everyone in cars started turning around and driving away. Kids were jumping the fence around the school and running through the woods.”
Gov. Bevin expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy, taking to both social media and a community event to address what he called the “cultural problem” of violence in America—more specifically, how forms of entertainment desensitize the viewer to bloodshed and murder.
“Look at our popular culture. Look at our movies. The violence [and] the disregard for the value of human life,” he said in an online video. “We have a culture of death of death in America. We can pretend we don’t. We can think that people can separate fact from fiction—from their lives from that which they see—but if they are immersed in it at every turn, in television, in movies, in music…”
Bevin urged parents to be attentive to what their children are watching, and encouraged youth to be careful about what they put in their eyes and ears. He also admonished film producers to realize the effect of the content of their movies on viewers.
“I know that we’re living in a day and age where [producers think] we need to shock people more than the last time or they won’t pay attention … The shock value maybe gets people to pay attention to something, puts eyes on something, and you can make a buck, but at what price?” Bevin asked. “It’s robbing us of the very fabric of our nation and it’s killing our young people.”
On Friday, Bevin signed a proclamation urging Kentucky residents to dedicate Sunday as a day of prayer for those affected by Tuesday’s shooting.
“I want to encourage this community to do what it’s doing, which is pray,” he stated at the Children’s Art Activities Center, according to the Courier Journal. “And I also want to encourage every single faith-based organization, church, house of worship, everyone this Sunday to pray for Marshall County.”
Among the churches that organized a special time of prayer or included prayer in their regular Sunday service was Greater Norris Chapel Baptist Church in Henderson, which held a dedicated prayer gathering this afternoon. Crossroads Church in Lexington also took time to discuss the matter this morning during its worship service. Impact Church, just 10 miles from the school, held a vigil this week as well.
Mark Stecher, pastor of Crossroads Church, told WKYT-TV that his church has been talking about being a good neighbor as no one can go it alone.
“It’s almost impossible to process the loss and pain without other people,” he stated. “If we are by ourselves, that isolation ends up freezing us and paralyzing us. So it’s the most healthy thing you can do to reach out and be great neighbors to each other.”