Forgiveness and Healing: Meeting held between two families and school district following school shooting

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Using the power of prayer to fight violence in Shelby County schools.

Less than a week after their 13-year-old child was shot at school, the young man’s family joined hands in prayer with the family of the student who’s charged with pulling the trigger.

Shelby County Schools (SCS) Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said the victim’s father had a strong message about reconciliation, not retaliation. So, he invited both families to SCS headquarters Tuesday to talk and to pray for healing.

“We all joined hands and said a quick prayer,” Ray said. “We said a quick prayer for both students. And we said a quick prayer for healing our entire city.”

SCS officials said the victim is now back at school, and the district has homework to do.

“We are reviewing and assessing all of our protocols,” said SCS Communications Chief Jerica Phillips. “There was actually a review meeting today, going over emergency response plans.”

At Wednesday’s Shelby County Commission meeting, Commissioner Mickell Lowery suggested one way SCS could try and prevent future violence.

“Conflict resolution is just something that I think that could be helpful for our students, to have the tools to hopefully resolve these conflicts before they arise,” Lowery said. “School board member Stephanie Love told the commission that SCS will need money to create those programs.

“I agree that we can always get better,” she said. “And when I say ‘we’, I’m saying it collectively because a lot of our students come into the school with issues that are taking place in the community.”

Memphis is a community on track to break its homicide record this year. SCS leaders are now focused on breaking the cycle of violence.

“No matter what’s going on, it’s never too late to reconcile,” Ray said. “It’s never too late to forgive. It is never too late to choose love over hate.”

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