Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus, the light of the world. In this holy season of Advent we celebrate the coming of our Savior and acknowledge the need for God’s peace. I’m writing to update you on recent events at Fairmount Presbyterian Church because I realize not everyone keeps up with emails and some of you may not have attended worship recently.
Shortly after 5 pm on Wednesday, November 20, a female individual who lives nearby entered Fairmount Presbyterian Church, blending in with other adults dropping off children for choir practice. A young caregiver who was watching children attending choir practice was attacked in Andersen Hall, stabbed in the abdomen and the arm. Our Director of Spiritual Formation quickly assessed the situation and responded immediately, restraining her on the ground and removing the knife with the help of an elder. A staff member called 911 and Cleveland Heights Police and EMS responded quickly. The perpetrator was taken into custody and the victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance, with another elder riding along. Following surgery, she is in stable condition and is now at home recovering. All the children present were quickly removed to a secure room with responsible adults until their parents arrived. I thank God for the ALICE training and the security measures in place, because this could have been much worse. The attack was limited and the perpetrator, who suffers from mental illness, is currently in custody. However, it was very traumatic for all involved, particularly for the children and the young victim who had never been to Fairmount before.
Three members of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance were on site with our congregation for four days following the incident and will continue to be in touch. A trauma team from MetroHealth was also onsite and is offering ongoing therapy to those directly and indirectly affected by the attack. In the wake of this violent event, here are a few ways we can come together as a community of faith.
- Continue to pray for the victim (Aubrey) and all involved that evening, as the effects of trauma are long lasting.
- Please also pray for Meredith Lowell, who is being held on charges following the attack.
- Consider how you might step up to help at Fairmount. Can you serve as liturgist, host coffee hour, commit to attending worship regularly or participate in a ministry?
- Please abide by the security measures currently in place - one entrance during the week, sign in and wear a name tag. Doors are open on Sunday, so welcome one another and be attentive.
- If you’d like to give to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in honor of the work they do, we will receive and send those donations. Here is their website: https://pda.pcusa.org/.
- If you are interested in the sermon following the incident, which goes into a bit more detail, it can be found on our website (11/24/19) and printed copies are available near the office.
God is faithful, and will continue to abide with us as we walk through the holy season of Advent and beyond. I have been blessed beyond measure by the warm welcome these past three months as your Interim Pastor. We are indeed a strong and resilient community of faith making a difference in the world in the name of Christ. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Below you will find the audio and printed sermon from the Sunday (November 24th) following the incident.
May God bless you and keep you.
Rev. Jessie MacMillan
Interim Senior Pastor/Head of Staff