PC(USA) member among those killed in Arizona shootings

PC(USA) leaders express horror and anguish over tragedy

January 10, 2011

Phyllis Schneck

Phyllis Schneck


Phyllis Schneck, a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., was among those killed in the shootings on January 8, 2011, that left six people dead and 14 injured.

Schneck’s pastor, the Reverend Andy Ross, described her as “vibrant, fun, and a devoted woman of faith. Her smile, her commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ, and her friendship to so many will long be treasured.”

Ross continued, “From all of us at Northminster to all of you – we offer our hope and commitment to live as Christ's disciples, advancing his Kingdom of peace and healing, hope and salvation, with God's divine help, and with all of you. God bless you!”

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders issued a statement today in the wake of the shooting tragedy.

Elder Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and Elder Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Mission Council, expressed anguish over the shootings and horror over “this kind of assault on public discourse.”

Bolbach, Parsons, and Valentine also encourage all Presbyterians to join President Obama’s call for a moment of silence today at 11:00 EST.

The full text of their statement: 

We join with millions of people in this nation and worldwide who are horrified and anguished by the shootings in Arizona two days ago that resulted in such critical injuries and loss of life.

We are also horrified by this kind of assault on public discourse. Freedom of speech and assembly are foundational to who we are as citizens of this nation. As people of faith, we condemn violence and hatred and are committed to respectful civic engagement.  

We encourage all Presbyterians to join in prayer with the President of the United States’ call for a moment of silence today at 11:00 a.m. EST, “to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

Presbyterians have already been reaching out in this incident through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and de Cristo Presbytery. A community worship service is planned for today in Tucson, and additional assessment and follow-up will be ongoing.

The Psalmist writes,

For you are the God in whom I take refuge ...
O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling …

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (from Ps. 43)

  1. A death, especially one like this, is a loss to many with any kind of connection to the one who was killed...and we, in the church, especially fellow Presbyterians, should feel that loss and express our horrow at the circumstances. And then, motivated by our common faith, we should mourn, pray, and vow to keep or begin working on laws that provide better protection against such random or planned destruction or maiming of human lives. Until more of us expand our definition of "who is our neighbor" such acts that killed a sister (or brother) in faith will continue and easy access of destructive weapons will remain the scourge of a decent society. may God continue to help us expand our notions of who are our neighbors and where and how are we called to respond to the circumstances of their lives.

    by Freda A. Gardner

    January 13, 2011

  2. May the Lord bless her soul. We, the NPC family had lost a vibrant, wonderful sister in Christ. She was on eof our best friends and supporters, not only through her faithful prayers, but also through moral and financial. We pray for her family and the church members to have comfort, and may the Lord bless her soul and her memory is for ever. GB

    by Georges Bitar& Family

    January 12, 2011

  3. The statement is quite appropriate. Is is of course in some sense political. So is "Thou shalt not kill." The news that one of the victims is Presbyterian is significant because it means the event has touched us in a certain way, even though we would, I hope, care anyway.

    by Archibald M. Woodruff

    January 11, 2011

  4. In light of the numerous General Assembly statements on gun violence and the necessity for strong gun control laws, I am disappointed that the statement from our leaders did not make that point.

    by John Ames

    January 11, 2011

  5. @Bruce Bellingham - I'm thinking she just means how horrible it is that our public figures can't meet the public without fear of violence on themselves and those around them.

    by Rev. Mike Williams

    January 11, 2011

  6. I appreciate the comments in this letter. Many states have poor and reduced services to the mentally ill. I would like to know if this was a factor in this tragedy.

    by Carolyn Whitener

    January 11, 2011

  7. Why does Elder Cynthia Bolbach go political with the line," this kind of assault on public discourse". Such a silly comment to make in light of an insane tragedy.

    by bruce bellingham

    January 10, 2011

  8. Simply, thank you... To God be the Glory... Amen...

    by Tweetybird Andrews (Claude Andrews)

    January 10, 2011

  9. Thanks, Sharon for sharing this news. Of course a tragedy isn't any more tragic because one of our own church family is involved, but it makes it poignant.

    by Shane Whisler - eboc.org

    January 10, 2011

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