(Religion Unplugged) — Students at a Nashville, Tennessee, Christian school will not complete the academic year in their facility, where seven people died in a March 27 mass shooting.
The 1,200-member congregation, which meets about five miles from Covenant’s campus in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood, will host classes for the Presbyterian school beginning as early as next week and continuing through the end of May.
“There was no hesitation,” Jonathan Seamon, executive minister for the Brentwood Hills church, told The Christian Chronicle. “As soon as we knew they were even willing, we were ready to offer.”
As the Covenant community and the nation mourned the tragic deaths — three of them 9-year-old students — school officials reached out to Walt Leaver, Brentwood Hills’ pulpit minister, about the possibility of using facilities on the campus of nearby Lipscomb University, which is associated with Churches of Christ. Leaver serves as special adviser to the president at Lipscomb.
Leaver said he could refer them to the appropriate person to speak to at Lipscomb. He also mentioned the Brentwood Hills congregation.
“We’re here to serve if there’s anything you need,” he said.
In the midst of attending funerals, Covenant officials arranged a tour of the church’s building. Inspections by the Tennessee Department of Education and other agencies followed so that the church building could be granted emergency status for use as a school.
“The state has been very cooperative,” Seamon said. “They did in two days what usually would have taken two months.”
Accommodating their neighbors will require sacrifices by the church, Brentwood Hills’ elders said in a message sent to members Thursday morning. Some weekly activities at the building will need to be postponed or moved.
As they prepare to send kids to this weekend’s Lads to Leaders convention at the Opryland Hotel, members of Brentwood Hills’ children ministry team also are making plans to transition their facilities from Bible classrooms to school classrooms and back again. Bible Study Fellowship, an international, small-group ministry that hosts classes at the Brentwood facility throughout the week, has agreed to move their sessions online.
Since the message went out to the congregation, “my phone’s been ringing off the hook” with offers to help, Seamon said. “Everybody just wants to pour out their hearts.”
Leaver’s Easter sermon, part of a series titled “Hope is Here, His Name is Jesus,” takes on a new significance now, Seamon said. In addition to a celebration of the resurrected Christ, the worship service will urge members to “go be Jesus and serve.”
“This building is something that God has blessed us with,” Seamon said. “We’re stewards. We want to use it for his glory, to help these neighbors.”
by Erik Tryggestad, Religion Unplugged