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Baptist youth group in Capitol when fatal shootings occurred

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Three days after pastor Kevin Shrum had the “once-in-a-lifetime experience” July 21 of opening the United States House of Representatives in prayer, a youth group from his church also had an unforgettable experience of a much different kind at the nation’s Capitol: They were in the building when a gunman opened fire, killing two police officers and injuring a tourist.
Shrum’s opportunity came about through the efforts of Tennessee Congressman Bob Clement. One of Clement’s staff members, Dottie Moore, is a member of the church where Shrum is pastor, Inglewood Baptist in Nashville.
Getting the opportunity to lead prayer for the House of Representatives is rare, Shrum noted. He learned there are between 5,000-6,000 requests each year and only about 150 people are selected. The pastor said he was only the second person Clement has recommended who was chosen for the honor.
Not only were Shrum and his wife, Janet, in Washington, but so was a group of youth from Inglewood on a mission trip.
The Inglewood team, after a week of inner-city mission work, was visiting the Capitol July 24 when the gunman opened fire. The 42-member group had divided up and about seven or eight, along with minister to students Margaret Johnson, were touring the Capitol when the shooting occurred, Shrum reported.
The Inglewood group reportedly had passed by the hallway where the gunman came in just minutes before he began shooting, Shrum said.
The youth said they heard some gunshots, Shrum reported, noting they were escorted out of the Capitol by armed guards.
“It was chaos for a moment,” Shrum said. He noted the youth were detained for a couple of hours before they were reunited with the others in their party.
The youth were interviewed by CNN and other media, the pastor said.
After reuniting with the entire group they thanked God for keeping them safe, Shrum said.
Despite the trauma of the day, the Inglewood group went on with their Washington sightseeing the next day, including a visit to the White House, Shrum said. “They did not let fear drive them away. They are a great group of kids.”
Nashville media talked to the youth upon their return. A local television station was at their services on July 26.
Shrum said he told the local media not to lose focus on why the youth were in Washington — and that was the missions work they were doing.
Shrum said he told his congregation on Sunday morning, July 26, he did not know why all the things that happened during the week transpired, but “I know some how God will glorify himself in some way.”

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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