At an hourlong prayer service at the First Free Methodist Church, across the street from the Seattle Pacific University campus, students, faculty and other members of the college community were urged not to deny their grief, but to have the confidence that God will give them comfort and strength.
Those attending filled the church to capacity, and a live feed of the service was sent to a church gymnasium and a hall on campus for the overflow crowd.
“We live in a world that is broken, and there are no easy answers,” said Bob Zurinsky, SPU assistant director of university ministries.
Those gathered were urged to pray not just for the victims and their loved ones, but also for the person who, as one speaker said, committed this “mindless act of violence.”
At the conclusion of the service, Zurinsky implored those gathered to “stand with and for each other in the days ahead.”
Joy Bullock, a senior accounting major at SPU, attended both last night’s vigil and today’s memorial.
“We’re all still in shock that this happened at our school,” Bullock said. “I see the news reports and read the name SPU and it still takes me a second to remember that this actually happened here, at my school. I can’t believe it.”
She was attending today’s memorial with Megan Reardon, a senior dialectics major.
“It makes you realize how short life is,” Reardon said. “I mean we’re young, but you realize it could very well have been you or your friends in that situation.”
“It helps that our school is so centered on faith,” Reardon said. “That was the first thing people turned to. It’s something we have to rely on that brings comfort.”
Hymns at the vigil included “How Great is Your God” and “Come Lord Jesus, Come.” Abby Danao, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, said both songs are played regularly at campus services.
“I was crying the entire time the songs played,” said Danao, a sophomore at SPU studying mechanical engineering. “The lyrics were so powerful in the moment.”
Luke Allen, a sophomore physiology major at SPU, attended the vigil with a group of other students.
“There was a really powerful moment (in the memorial) when we prayed for the shooter. We prayed not only that he come to justice, but that he come to reconciliation. I thought the ability to pray for him the day after says a lot about this campus,” Allen said.
“It was great to see more than just the school there,” he said. “Local pastors, the mayor, people from the area were there and prayed for us.”
Allen recalled running into one of his professors as he left the memorial. “He just put his arm around me and said, ‘Thank God you’re all right.’ That meant so much.”
Reporters Jack Broom and Erin Heffernan contributed to this report.