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Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Vigil to be held for Tall


UH Lutheran Campus Ministry will hold a campuswide prayer vigil at the Metro bus stop on the 3400 Block of Cullen Boulevard on Wednesday.

The vigil is at the site where Joe Tall was shot to death on Feb. 7 while sleeping on the bench at the bus stop.

Pastor Bradley Fuerst, who has worked with Lutheran Campus Ministry for a year a half at the University, said he wanted to make sure Tall’s death did not go without proper memorial.

‘Didn’t it amaze you that life kind of just went on?’ Fuerst said. ‘I’m driving by there and there’s people waiting for the bus. It’s like nothing ever happened.’

Fuerst said he wanted to help those affected by the shooting begin the healing process through the vigil.

‘When you see something like that on the front page (of the newspaper), I think that is what rattles a lot of people, but then we just carry on without marking it,’ he said.

‘ ‘That doesn’t mean we walk around and hang our heads.’ ‘hellip;What it means is taking some time to turn aside, to stop, to say, ‘This is what happened here. A life was taken.’ In doing that, there is some healing.’

Fuerst is handing out fliers to encourage members of the UH community to attend.

‘Everyone’s welcome. That means students, staff, faculty, Muslim, Christian, Jewish – I don’t care. I think none of us ought to care about that,’ he said.

Fuerst is also reaching out to leaders from various campus religious groups to incorporate different religious beliefs in the vigil.

‘I would like to have them bring their holy texts and pick out something to read. After every reading, we would have silence and may say a few words after that, but then we’d have prayer and people would be free to stay as long as they want,’ he said.

Fuerst said the vigil will give students an outlet to express the effect the shooting has had on them.

‘We mopped things up because we don’t want to be confronted by our own mortality,’ he said.

Fuerst said people can be ‘spiritually wounded’ by events such as the shooting, but society doesn’t give those emotions much merit. He said students’ ‘spiritual identities’ can be attacked when they are questioned about personal faith or forced to face topics such as death.

‘The scene usually looks something like this – a personality on campus barking at the students and saying things where they know they’re going to engage others, and there are standers by who have their feelings hurt,’ Fuerst said.

‘We think about wounds being physical, and I think we’ve even made progress in terms of wounds being emotional and psychological, but we don’t think about spiritually wounding someone.’

Fuerst said the vigil will also bring to light the challenging situations homeless people face every day.

‘We have so many people in this community that are confronted with violence, lack of protection, lack of provision,’ he said. ‘This reminds us that there’s so many people whose daily reality is this.’

The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. at the Metro Bus stop on Cullen Boulevard outside Hofheinz Pavilion. Although some candles will be provided, those attending are encouraged to bring their own if possible.

Lutheran Campus Ministry also hosts a weekly Bible study at 5 p.m. Wednesdays and co-hosts a worship service at 7 p.m. Wednesdays with the Canterbury Ministry at UH.


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