Prayer service held for Florida shooting victims

Carlos Colón, assistant director for worship and chapel, gathered with students Monday on Founders Mall to pray for the Floridians affected by the school shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last Wednesday. Josh Aguirre | Multimedia Journalist

By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer

The Baylor Chaplain’s Office held a prayer service Monday on Founders Mall for those affected by the Parkland, Fla., shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The shooting last Wednesday was labeled one of the deadliest in modern American history by the New York Times and resulted in the loss of 17 student and faculty lives.

A group of Baylor students and faculty gathered on Founders Mall for the intimate service. Carlos Colón, assistant director for worship and chapel, led the congregation in a series of prayers, readings and songs.

“That meant the world to them to have that human touch of the Baylor community standing and hurting with them,” Colón said.

Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life, was among those who attended the prayer service.

Unlike gatherings in the past, this prayer service was requested by students who wanted to show support for those affected by the event — a profound demonstration of leadership in Colón’s view.

“There seems to be a leadership of the students that is very earnest, very moving,” Colón said. “There are words coming from young people that maybe we the adults and the leaders of our country need to hear.”

According to The Washington Post, the tragedy marks the eighth intentional school shooting in 2018. With school shootings occurring more frequently, Colón has noticed an increase in student concern about events like the Florida shooting. While students should be wary of their surroundings and follow university procedures should an incident ever occur, members of the Baylor community need to focus on being supportive of one another, Colón said.

“Take heart. We are looking out for each other …” Colón said. “We will continue to walk in love and not in fear.”

Copperas Cove junior Kayla Kemp led the song portions of the prayer service. Though Kemp had no connection to the shooting, she felt it was important to show support to those who were impacted by the tragedy.

“I’m not from the area and I don’t know anyone personally but for me, this is heartbreaking whenever a community experiences a tragedy like this,” Kemp said. “To be able to have people come together and to pray and to seek God in the midst of tragedy is a really powerful thing.”

With the service occurring in the middle of the academic day, many students were unable attend the event. However, students and faculty can show support for victims and raise awareness for the growing issue by speaking out when appropriate and praying for those affected, Colón said.