“This is not who we are”: Faith leaders continue healing process after tragedy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Life will never be normal for many affected by what authorities are calling “hate crimes” from last Sunday that left three people dead. But many are moving forward with a renewed sense of unity after the shooting deaths at Jewish community centers in Overland Park.

Wednesday was the first time the congregation of St. Andrews Episcopal Church gathered after Sunday's tragedy. They held a prayer service for community healing on Wednesday night. The service happened on the same day the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City re-opened. The head of the JCC spoke out about what has happened in the last three days since the shootings on his campus.

“The last few days have been challenging, but also inspiring,” said Jacob Schreiber, President and CEO of the JCC. “What we have seen is not only an outpouring of support, but of Kansas City actually standing up and saying this is not who we are.”

As crews work to repair the last remaining evidence of the tragic shooting that killed Dr. William Corporon, his grandson Reat Underwood and victim Terri LaManno, Schreiber is working with religious leaders to repair the heart and soul of the community.

“The Jewish community, the Christian community all feel that this is an expression of hate against our city, against our people of the city and they want to do something about it,” he said. “Because this was an attack, not just on the Jewish community, but on all people who value love over hate.”

One of those people is Father John Spicer, rector of St. Andrew`s, who held the prayer service before the stations of the cross, a Christian ceremony during this Holy Week of Easter, which is the same week as the Jewish Holy Week of Passover.

“Our faith is rooted in Jewish faith. Our story is the same story as the Jewish congregations will be telling about the exodus, about that deliverance, about God`s deliverance from death to life, from slavery to freedom. That`s our story as well,” said Fr. Spicer. “They want to somehow be a part of saying, 'This is not who we are.' So as hard as it`s been on our community, no doubt, it`s also been inspiring.”

Thursday at 10 a.m., religious leaders from several area churches and synagogues will hold a service of unity and hope at the Jewish Community Center. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will attend.

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