People turn to their faith for comfort after mass shootings
People across the country are struggling to grasp the violent nature of two mass shootings this weekend, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. Twenty-nine people were killed overall.
Many who are now looking for comfort and hope will focus on their faith.
This Sunday, just like any other, people gathered to worship at the CORE church in Appleton. But the service fell right after the back-to-back mass shootings.
"My gut reaction was shock,” said CORE Pastor Mike Novotny.
Novotny says at this point, it's easy to become desensitized to this kind of violence.
"Even today I had to remind myself what city it happened in, because this has happened in so many places just in 2019," said Novotny.
But that's something Novotny tries to lead his congregation away from.
"I try to tackle that by just helping people empathize,” said Novotny. “These are real people who need real support and are deeply grieving in a real way."
The pastor believes firmly in the power of faith but says he can understand why, after so many shootings, some people are getting frustrated and want more than just thoughts and prayers.
"If I saw a poor person on the street and said 'My prayers are with you' but I didn't do anything to help them, I think Jesus has an issue with that," said Novotny.
Novotny says prayer is powerful, but when people are able to, they should take action.
"I was reading stories about donating blood, or giving donations to help people and victims, or change things even at a higher level, I think we absolutely should," said Novotny.
The pastor thinks regardless of what someone believes, people can process these tragedies by leaning on one another. For Notvotny and his congregation, they can also lean on their faith.
"When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you don't have to be afraid because god is with us. I think that's my main message,” said Novotny. “That even when it's a really dark valley, we don't have to be afraid if we believe that God is with us and his love is big enough to conquer this."