Pastor moved to act by Sandy Hook PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor   
Friday, 15 February 2013 11:43
Bob Ball, pastor at the United Methodist Church in Rossford, Ohio is seen on February 14, 2013. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
ROSSFORD - Though the tragic incident at Sandy Hook was more than 600 miles away, the event hit home for Pastor Bob Ball.
Since the death of the students and teachers on Dec. 14, Ball, pastor of  Rossford United Methodist Church, has been determined to "stay awake" and to help lead his congregation forward to action "to transform the community and the world."
The latest venture is a Lenten Bible study for five consecutive Wednesday evenings called "Transforming Our World." He has assembled a wide-ranging program with a variety of speakers to help educate and advance the safety of all children.
Within two days of the killings, Ball and the congregation held a memorial service for those who died. At the service, one of the first-grade students lit a candle in memory of the children; while a teacher lit a second candle for the teachers.
The congregation later created a prayer quilt and sent it along with a letter to the survivors at the elementary school.
Ball said the letter read, "We, in Rossford United Methodist Church, are committed to doing something that will stem the violence that these children will not have died in vain."
He said it is not enough that people were shocked, he said there has to be a genuine effort so that everyone knows what's going on in the community and that everything possible is being done to protect the children.
He noted how everyone was shocked and upset after the Columbine incident. "That lasted for about six weeks, then we went back to sleep," Ball said.
He said similar things happened after various other tragedies including the Aurora, Colo. theater, the shooting in Arizona and the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin.
"We go back - I go back to sleep," he said, that is until Sandy Hook. "I committed myself not to go back to sleep and to do something."
The pastor said one of the members of the congregation is a retired administrator from Owens Community College. Bill Ivoska has done research on high school students and young adults in Wood County over several years.
"His research tells us a lot about the use of drug and alcohol, especially for at risk teens and young adults," Ball said.
Ivoska will lead the discussion on the first of the sessions with a focus on the "Current Reality."
That session will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the church, 270 N. Dixie Highway. A fellowship meal will be served prior to each session at 6 p.m.
The Feb. 27 session will feature Wood County Chief Deputy Sheriff Eric Reynolds, who will lead the discussion on the law enforcement areas of the topic.
On March 6, Tom Clemons will lead the mental health focus and its impact on violence. Clemons serves as executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.
Lorrie Lewandowski of the Wood County Educational Service Center and Ken Sutter, a Rossford School board member from the church, will take on the topic of schools at the March 13 session. Ball will conclude the series on March 20 as his focus will be the responsibility of Christians.
The pastor says he will try to address, "How do we, as a faith community, become helpful in stemming the violence and addressing issues that create violent situations."
He said everyone is welcome to attend any or all of the one hour to 90-minute sessions each Wednesday leading up to Holy Week and Easter.
The pastor said they will address topics including the United Methodist's church position on violence and value systems, examining ideas including whether it is wise to have teachers armed in the classroom.
He does not consider that option to be a good idea. He cited how the president of the Columbus Fraternal Order of Police said if a teacher is armed and there is an incident, law enforcement personnel in entering that school would not know if that teacher holding a weapon is the intruder or not.
"We want our educators to teach values that do not reflect violence," Ball said.
Later in the spring, Ball wants to invite pastors and other church leaders to become involved in a training session to allow them to lead similar programs at their churches.
He shared that guns are a tool for the killers, yet he is not arguing against the Second Amendment rights of the public.
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2013 04:44

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