Following the tragic shootings in Aurora on July 20th, 2012, Randy Kuss offered this guide for pastors, parents and youth who want to talk about the shooting and pray. The Worshipful Discussion Process gives leaders a framework for processing these tragedies in a group setting. Randy first developed it in 1999 for discussing the Columbine High School shootings. He then re-wrote it for 9/11, the Virginia Tech college shooting, and a couple of other senseless violent events in recent years.
Thankfully, Randy has had this resource available for some time. ”Every couple of years I seem to have to tweak this and send it around again. The need for such discussions and for work that peacemakers do seems to go on and on. I’m glad I have this available to share. Wish I didn’t keep having to do so.”
After the Smoke Clears
After the Smoke Clears
A Worshipful Discussion Process
Toward Faithful Living After the Gunfire
In Response to the Aurora Theater Shootings of July 20, 2012
This discussion process is suitable for middle school through adult settings. It allows participants to listen for and follow God’s lead on how to respond without any pre-set agenda for where God might take them.
Setting the Scene: If possible, set the room up with chairs in a circle to allow participants to see and hear each other well. Create a worshipful atmosphere for the discussion with worship center in the middle, perhaps a small table with a cloth covering, candle, Bible, or whatever feels appropriate for your group and setting.
- Begin with a time of quiet or prayer or song and then use the following process to guide the conversation.
- Where were you when you first heard about the July 20th shooting at the theater showing The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado?
- Where were you as the shooting began?
- Outline together a timeline of events as you understand what happened (leaders should research the details from the news media and be prepared to help the group put the timeline together but the process of recalling together is important – fill in gaps as seems helpful but do not do the timeline for them!)
Art – Forming the Memories:
- Think through those memories of hearing about the Aurora theater shooting, seeing the pictures and images, hearing stories and news. With those in mind, answer the following questions:
- What colors do you remember?
- What textures come to mind?
- What smells did you sense?
- What sounds do you remember?
- What words do you remember?
- What phrases or dialogues do you remember?
- What life–changing moment(s) do you remember?
- Who was the Christ figure (i.e., where was Jesus) in the events there? in the events of these days after?
- What other incidents of shooting violence do you remember? . . . events here in the USA? . . . events around the world?;
- Which ones would you consider the same sort of event as the Aurora theater shootings? Which ones are different? How are they the same or different?
- As you think about the Aurora theater shootings (and similar incidents?) what do you learn about people?
- As you think about the responses of people and systems (police, legal systems, social services, religious groups, etc) what do you learn?
- How does The Dark Knight Rises speak to what happened in Aurora? How does that connect to what your faith tells you? How does it not connect?
- What other movies (or songs or TV shows) come to mind as you think about the Aurora theater shootings? What messages do you hear from those?
- What phrases or stories from the Bible come to mind as you think about the Aurora theater shootings? What do you hear from those?
- What would you like to say to or do with or for the victims of the Aurora theater shootings?
Those who responded to help?
the families and friends?
the systems involved (police, legal systems, social services, religious groups, etc)?
the places in the world where others are under attack?
the places in the world where they are not?
the church (and other religious groups)?
- What would God say or do with (select any from above list)? with you (us)?
- How have the Aurora theater shootings affected your life? What from all this gives you despair? What gives you hope?
- “Wisdom is knowing what to do next.” Assuming for a moment that we are wise, how shall we live differently now after these events?
What shall we pray for now? . . . . Let us pray . . . .