In immediate aftermath of shooting, leaders with Missouri Faith Voices call for gun reform and advocate for mental and emotional well-being of school community
ST. LOUIS – In response to yesterday’s shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, leaders with Missouri Faith Voices are preparing to offer grief counseling to students, their families, and the local community. Several clergy members were on the scene yesterday afternoon to offer pastoral care and process the shooting with families. Along with the nine identified victims, Missouri Faith Voices also recognizes how everyone present at the shooting will also suffer trauma. Clergy are urging the St. Louis Public Schools superintendent to keep schools closed while the crime scene is still active and allow time to address the mental health needs of students and community members. Leaders with Missouri Faith Voices are also hoping for answers surrounding details of the shooter’s identity and how they were able to infiltrate the campus.
Rika Tyler, director of organizing, Missouri Faith Voices said: “Our hearts are deeply saddened and heavy with this senseless tragedy that seems to be happening way too often. As a mother to four Black boys, I am at a loss for words. We as a community will need to provide immediate resources for the students and families and the victims of this school shooting. Our children deserve so much better, especially in a school setting that is supposed to be safe and rewarding.”
Rev. Clyde Crumpton said: “We need to continue focusing on the mental health and mental wellness of our community, particularly our young people. In addition, for the Black community, we need more of our truth to be told. I see confusion or uncertainty in our folks as to who we are as a people, and our role and purpose in this time. Birthed out of trauma, we continue, in various ways, to harm ourselves, forgetting or not realizing we are our Sisters’ and Brothers’ keeper.”
Rev. Russell Ewell, board president, Missouri Faith Voices said: “We’re long overdue to pass legislation to make it harder to get guns off the streets, especially AR-15s that have been used in dozens of mass shootings. Today, however, we have to focus on the crisis that’s in front of us, and ensure that these students and teachers quickly get the mental and emotional support they need, the time and space to grieve, and the tools to do so. We’ll make ourselves available for pastoral care, for anyone who needs it.”
Missouri Faith Voices – part of the Faith in Action National Network – engages the power of the faith community to shape public policy, debate, and dialogue on behalf of vulnerable people in the state. In the past 10 years Missouri Faith Voices has grown from a roundtable of clergy from various faiths to a multi-faith, multi-racial movement with chapters and employees in four cities, St. Louis, Columbia, Jefferson City, and Springfield. http://www.missourifaithvoices.org/