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BC Sends Banner Of Blessing To Virginia Tech

Today, Bereans will show their support for the Virginia Tech community as they send off a personalized prayer banner to the university as a symbol of friendship in the wake of the April 16 shooting.

The prayer banner displayed in Danforth Chapel

Conceived by Katie Basham and Loretta Reynolds of the Campus Christian Center, the banner is constructed from individual prayer flags filled with words of sympathy and support from students, faculty and staff. According to Basham, the banner contains almost 100 individual messages and is long enough to wrap nearly two times around the foyer of the Danforth Chapel, where it was displayed last week.

Basham says that she and Reynolds decided to create the prayer banner as they planned the recent Service of Remembrance and Prayer to honor the lives that were lost at Virginia Tech. “When faced with such overwhelming situations, people want to do something to help, and we wanted to find a way that people could offer encouragement to those directly affected by this tragedy,” she explains.

Basham is touched by the outpouring of support from the Berea Community. “I am really overwhelmed by the beauty of the final product,” she says. “The messages are all very unique, but all offer profound and sincere words of hope and support.” Basham adds that the notes on the banner represent a variety of religious traditions, which she says is “a sign that in difficulty we can take comfort in our particular traditions and in each other.”

While most of the messages were anonymous, some contributors did sign their names. Dr. Janice Blythe, Berea’s associate provost for advising and academic success, felt it was important to express her support. “We currently have a recent Berea graduate at Tech and I want that student to know our thoughts and prayers are with her,” she explains. “Further, I have other professional colleagues who are or have been associated with VA Tech. For a brief period, as a graduate student I attended some research conferences at Tech, and I arranged for collaborative undergraduate experiences for one of my former nutrition and dietetics students on that campus during my first years here at Berea College. Finally, we have a number of students at Berea from the state of Virginia. For all these reasons, I felt it was appropriate for me to offer some small means of visible support to that university.”

Planned Giving Assistant Denise McKinney, who offered a comforting scripture to those at Virginia Tech, feels that such a tragedy provides an opportunity for change. “This is a call for us to be intentional in our care of one another, to practice kindness, justice and mercy in our everyday living,” she says.

Basham adds, “I would encourage Bereans to continue to keep Virginia Tech in their thoughts and prayers … [and] to continue working for a supportive and loving campus community here, where all may feel wanted and included, and where violence is not viewed as the only solution to conflict. I believe that in creating welcoming and hospitable communities, we may be able to prevent this kind of devastating violence from happening elsewhere.”

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