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Baptist association responds to Tenn. school shooting

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (BP)–In the wake of a Tennessee school shooting that left an assistant high school principal dead, Campbell County Baptist Association and its churches are responding with crisis intervention debriefing and prayer sessions for the community.

A lone student was arrested for the Nov. 8 melee that also left the school’s principal and another assistant principal seriously wounded.

The surviving assistant principal, Jimmy Pierce, 56, a member of First Baptist Church in LaFollette, was wounded in the chest and was listed in critical condition at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

The principal, Gary Seale, a member of LaFollette Church of God, was shot in the abdomen and was listed in serious but stable condition at the Knoxville hospital.

The assistant principal who died at a LaFollette hospital, Ken Bruce, was a member of a local Catholic church.

Campbell County Baptist Association’s director of missions, Glen Petree, said Pierce is a good friend with whom he attended school in the community. Piece serves as a greeter and offering bearer at First Baptist, LaFollette. His wife Elda Kate also is active in the church. The couple has one daughter, Holly, a student at the University of Tennessee.

Petree is prepared to assist emergency first responders to the shooting at Campbell County Comprehensive High School in Jacksboro with crisis intervention through the CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) program. Petree is a trained crisis interventionist and also the chaplain for local EMTs.

Petree has met with associational pastors and youth ministers to schedule a joint community prayer and encouragement service for Sunday night, Nov. 13, at the LaFollette Church of God.

Petree reported at least three Baptist churches in the area that have opened their doors to the community to help people recover from the tragedy.

“Hillcrest Baptist Church, LaFollette, which actually overlooks the high school, has opened its doors to the community. Hillcrest Church pastor Chris Thomas opened the church for counseling, people who want to talk, and for prayer,” Petree said. “Other churches in the area, New Horizon Baptist Church and Indiana Avenue Baptist Church, both in LaFollette, have also opened their doors for prayer and discussions. Two churches held candlelight services and prayer vigils Nov. 8.”

Petree noted that state mental health counselors were available Nov. 9 at LaFollette Middle School and Jacksboro Middle School for anyone who wanted to talk. “The State CISM team, which I work with in the area, has offered to do a debriefing for the high school students and teachers and the Campbell County School System central office.

“We have six trained leaders in school crisis counseling on the local CISM team. We are also available to all first responders which includes the EMTs and other emergency personnel.” Petree already has had one referral from the local office of emergency management.

The Baptist leader is asking for prayers for the victims and the community.
Adapted from reporting by Marcia Knox, special features assistant with the Baptist & Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp.

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