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Tragic anniversary marked in Colorado

BY SUSAN KIM | LITTLETON, CO | April 20, 2000

LITTLETON, CO (April 20, 2000) -- One year after a shooting massacre

at Littleton High School, the search for solutions goes on. Youth,

parents, teachers, and neighbors will gather at a memorial service

Thursday afternoon to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.

The Columbine Redemption Service, which will be held at the Trinity

Christian Center in Littleton, will honor the memory of 12 students

and a teacher slain by two gun- and bomb-wielding classmates who

ended their melee by killing themselves in the school.

The service is being hosted by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo, parents

of slain student Rachel Joy Scott. Other family members of victims

will participate as well. "We wanted a platform to thank the world

for their prayers and support," Scott said.

The service was to be broadcast live on the Internet by visiting the


Today Web site, which also contains other resource materials

related to school violence.

Another memorial service Wednesday marked the five-year anniversary

of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma

City. In that incident, 168 people died. The service officially

opened the Oklahoma City National Memorial, a field of stone and

brass sculpted chairs labeled with the names of the victims.

Memorial services can be a healthy way to honor victims of public

violence, said Daniel L. Casey, a school crisis traumatologist. Casey

traveled to Denver to train 30 staff who lived through the Columbine

tragedy in how to sustain an ongoing response to the crisis.

"There's more of this type of training being done in the wake of

Columbine that there has been in the past 50 years," said Casey, who

has visited more than 200 schools to offer training in school crisis


Youth culture expert Josh McDowell, who is scheduled to be the

keynote speaker at the memorial service in Littleton, has also been

training young people, parents, and staff in responding to violence.

"If our country does not correctly interpret what happened at

Columbine, we will continue to pay an awesome price with young

lives," he said. "If we want 'Columbines' to stop, parents and

legislators must look forward with specific, creative answers that

will address this generation's urgent 911 call."

Throughout the year, students across the nation have been meeting

with counselors, pastors, parents, and teachers in ongoing local and

national discussions about the root causes of school violence, how to

prevent it, and how to react when it happens.

The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Team Terror Response Unit

returned to Littleton this week to offer a one-year anniversary

debriefing opportunity for area religious leaders.

The Presbyterian-affiliated Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center has

also continued to serve school groups affected by public violence.

Camps for survivors of school violence are held regularly. Earlier

this year, the camp sent a delegation of students to Colorado to talk

about healing in the wake of school violence.

Other faith-based groups are also reaching out to young people in new

ways. Kids Hope USA, a program of Michigan-based International Aid,

trains church members to develop positive relationships with at-risk

children. Mentors from churches commit to meet with a child, referred

by a teacher, for one hour per week for a minimum of one school year.

Kids Hope currently maintains 112 church-school partnerships in 18

states and is reaching more than 1,640 children.

"Youth violence has increased by 100% nationally over the last five

years," said Dr. Virgil Gulker, executive director for Kids Hope. "In

my own idyllic Michigian community, there has been a 400 percent

increase in violence over that same time period. Columbine was a

wake-up call for so many people. Churches are more anxious than ever

to touch the lives of young people."

Gulker has fielded requests from 47 states and Canada from churches

that have been put on a waiting list to offer a Kids Hope program.

Churches are required to fund a part-time Kids Hope director and

provide that person with a church office. Participating churches are

also required to have a Kids Hope leadership team, and recruit at

least 10 mentors and 10 prayer partners to start. One of the mentors

must be the church's pastor. Prayer partners, although they do not

directly mentor the youth, actively pray for the mentor and the young


In conjunction with the Littleton memorial service, "Rachel's Tears,"

a book by Scott and Nimmo, will be released the same day. The book is

a personal account of their daughter's life through excerpts from her

journal and selected drawings.

Related Topics:

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TX church meets grief, support

Community is key in violence

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