Gun Fire at The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN … 2 Killed


The evil that men do … what would cause some one to one fire on defenseless individuals during a church service? What evil lies in the the hearts of some men.

Horrible and shocking news from Knoxville, TN and the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. A gun man opened fire during services and has killed one individual. The shootings occurred Sunday during a youth performance. Also, 5 other people have been wounded and are in critically condition. Please pray for the victim’s families and for the congregation of TVUUC.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen identified the man killed as Greg McKendry, 60, a longtime church member and usher at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Here is a timeline of the tragic events of the shooting at The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Jim D. Adkisson

Church shooting suspect Jim D. Adkisson of Powell, TN

The suspect in the church shooting has now been identified as Jim D. Adkisson of Knox County. Jim Adkisson is being held on a million dollar bond and is charged with first-degree murder. A motive is not known as to the reason why some one would open fire in during a church service; however, its is being reported that the gunman shouted before he opened fire …“It was hateful words … He was saying hateful things,” but refused to elaborate.

Check out The Moderate Voice, one of their bloggers actually attends the church. Also Corrente has a personal connection to some who attend the church as well.

UPDATE I: Two now confirmed dead in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shootings

The man slain was identified as Greg McKendry, 60, a longtime church member and usher. Church member Barbara Kemper told The Associated Press that McKendry “stood in the front of the gunman and took the blast to protect the rest of us.”

Linda Kreager, 61, died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center a few hours after the shooting, Knoxville city spokesman Randall Kenner said.

UPDATE I: Accused church shooter threatened to kill wife, himself

UPDATE II: Man charged in Tenn. church shooting that killed 2

UPDATE III: Hatred Said to Motivate Tenn. Shooter

As fellow church members struggle for answers as to why someone would open fire in a church and harm defenseless, peaceful church goers … they may have found a motive for Jim D. Adkisson’s actions. According to reports, the shootings were brought on by hatred. However, more than hatred, it might have also been from having a couple of screws loose.

A man who the police say entered a Unitarian church in Knoxville during Sunday services and shot 8 people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and homosexuals, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.

“It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement,” Chief Owen said of the suspect, Jim D. Adkisson, 58. “We have recovered a four-page letter in which he describes his feelings and the reason that he claims he committed these offenses.”

Hatred is an all powerful and consuming force. When allowed to fester and manifest itself, hatred can destroy all in its path and the individual consumed by it.

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  • Comments

    26 Responses to “Gun Fire at The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN … 2 Killed”

    1. MissKatie on July 28th, 2008 9:45 am

      pure evil… when someone would enter a house of worship and kill innocent people without reason..
      I am almost willing to bet that this man has mental health issues..duh…
      goes to show that you arent even safe in the house of god… thats horrible that this kind of thing would happen in a church..

    2. Sharon Chicago on July 28th, 2008 11:00 am

      Satan showed up for their service… How horrible.. I pray for everyone that goes to that church..must have been a scary thing for the kids to say the least.

      I pray that they all know the savior of their souls “Jesus” as their personal savior. The Unitarian Churhes do not believe in Jesus as their savior….

    3. Ryan on July 28th, 2008 11:17 am

      This is such a tragic and unwelcome reminder of the pain and brokenness in our sinful world. Our prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Tennessee as they mourn in this time of loss. I pray that, though difficult, events like this will help unify the church in the hope of the Gospel.

      I was thinking about this today and found that Christianity Today is offering a free resource called “Confronting Gun Violence.” I’ll include the link below for any of you who are interested. While we can never predict when an act of violence might occur, this download offers some precautionary measures churches can take to safeguard their people and facilities.

      Again, my deepest sympathies go out to our friends in Knoxville and I pray that we can learn to prevent such tragedies in the days to come.

    4. K on July 28th, 2008 11:27 am

      I am a Unitarian Universalist. There are many ways to experience and celebrate the divine. Jesus is only one way. To insist that it is the only way is to go down a path of intolerance – a path that if taken to an extreme ends where Mr. Addkisson’s did: with a gun and death and much sadness. It wasn’t Satan that pulled the trigger. It was ignorance, fear and isolation.

    5. MissKatie on July 28th, 2008 11:44 am

      the devil goes to church too… I have often said that.. mostly because of women I knew that married men in church and later found themselves in a violent relationship.. but none the less
      the devil does go to church
      it’s to bad that they dont believe in jesus as their saviour!!

    6. jane on July 28th, 2008 2:05 pm

      Well said K.

    7. bob on July 28th, 2008 3:15 pm

      K, You said, “Jesus is only one way.” That is a satanic lie. Jesus is the ONLY way and the Unitarian Church is a satanic cult. That unitarian church, in particular, promoted homosexual rights and founded a chapter of the ACLU. Those two people killed are both in Hell.

    8. bob on July 28th, 2008 3:46 pm

      I think it’s very interesting to note that Randy Pausch who just recently died was also a member of the Unitarian Universalist church. Since this “church” denies the deity of Jesus Christ, all who believe their doctrine die in their sins. This means Randy is in Hell now. Read it below. Notice that Randy says Unitarianism appeals to reason (not faith).

      “In Memoriam: Randy Pausch, Unitarian Universalist, Author of “The Last Lecture”
      July 25, 2008

      Randy Pausch, Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, died on July 25 after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. A Unitarian Universalist who first came to this faith as a member of the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Pausch was 47 years old. Celebrated in his field for co-founding the pioneering Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center and for creating the innovative educational software tool known as “Alice,” Pausch earned his greatest worldwide fame for his inspirational The Last Lecture which was subsequently published by Hyperion Books. Pausch was interviewed by this past June. The Last Lecture has been a huge bestseller, and you have subsequently received much public attention from Oprah Winfrey, ABC-TV, and more. You once said in an interview that you wrote this book to deliver a “message in a bottle” to your children. Surely you never imagined such publicity as you’ve received…how did all this happen?

      Pausch: What’s happened is way beyond my imagination. It’s sort of a classic “viral internet” event; some of my colleagues could not be at the talk [given at Carnegie Mellon University] and asked if we would make the video available online. Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal wrote a column on it, and then it just took off. The thing that I find most gratifying is that people are telling me both the lecture and the book are helping them communicate with their own kids. What is your religious background, and what is it about being a Unitarian Universalist that attracted you to this faith?

      Pausch: I was raised Presbyterian and attended church regularly until I was about 17. I like the fact that [Unitarian Universalism] appeals to reason and thought more than dogma.

    9. richard on July 28th, 2008 4:57 pm

      Probably none of us has ever heard of Greg McKendry.

      Probably none of us will ever display as much heroism as he did.

      And probably — sickeningly and disgustingly — attention will be paid to the animal with the shotgun.

      Any decent society would hold up the actions of Greg McKendry, who apparently not only went to church but also took to heart the lessons from it, as meriting our most profound respect.

      Guess which of them, McKendry or the animal, will get the attention of Hollywood and TV.

      That’s why I said, “any DECENT society.”

      My condolences to all those in the Volunteer State. May the dead rest in peace, and the wounded recover.

    10. richard on July 28th, 2008 5:06 pm

      The verse, I believe, is John 15:13:

      King James Bible
      Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

    11. Bearlyhere on July 29th, 2008 2:09 am

      Such heroics in the face of death. What a wonderful family these church members are to each other. The medical people in the church also helped the injured until the rescuers arrived.

      What a horrible tragedy to test the bonds of this family. My condolences on your losses both physical and psychological.

    12. brie. on July 29th, 2008 4:40 am

      Down with the devil….this is another horrifying issue…our gun laws are out of control and the supreme court isn’t going to do anything about it….what is wrong with this country…guns and perverts….why do we have to live in fear…

    13. michael on July 29th, 2008 7:59 am

      i will pray for all the members that were affected by this madman. but im confused. how can you call this a church when the bible clearly states that gay and lesbian is an abomination, not just a sin A ABOMINATION romans 1:24-28 states–
      24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

      26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

      28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

    14. Rachel’s Musings » Support Knoxville UU on July 29th, 2008 12:36 pm

      [...] Sunday, July 27, two people were murdered during a service at the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Knoxville TN (a timeline of the [...]

    15. bob on July 29th, 2008 3:17 pm

      Brie said, “our gun laws are out of control and the supreme court isn’t going to do anything about it…” If the courts allowed everyone to carry, then crime would go way down.

    16. Mark on July 30th, 2008 11:20 am

      If everyone in that church were carrying a gun, then many more people would be dead now.

      I am amazed at how the tragedy of this event is being turned into a proselytizing opportunity. Do you truly believe that Jesus would not have helped the people of this church because they do not worship him? I am UU and I believe in the lessons that Jesus taught us. I don’t believe what I’ve seen written here. Too much church, not enough faith. We are all of God, God is in each of us. Seek Him in others and you will find Him.

    17. bob on July 30th, 2008 4:12 pm

      Mark, You say, “I am UU and I believe in the lessons that Jesus taught us.” No, you don’t. You don’t believe in the teachings of the biblical Jesus because UU doesn’t believe in the Jesus of the bible. Because UU denies the deity of Jesus, UU believes in a false Jesus. You don’t at all believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

      You say “God is in each of us.” That is a satanic lie from the New Age movement.

    18. MissKatie on July 31st, 2008 11:40 am

      how can you seek him in others..????. others may not represent god..AT LEAST NOT MY GOD!!!. AND he is not in each of us … because not everyone believes in god and many are athiest.. therefore that rings untrue for me…you dont seek god in others… you seek him through prayer…
      alot of people twist religion to fit their own needs… why does the bible speak 16of soddom and gomorrah and why he destroyed it.. would the god that spoke against this.. suddenly condone it!!!
      why would he allow this now .. those arent houses of god !!
      !where they practice their man made religions.. they are just building… where the spirit of god does not dwell.. remember for everything god has.. the devil has a counterfiet.. and in these last days the bible says there will be many false profits… that will come in sheeps clothing to confuse and seperate people from the true god…
      not everyone that says lord lord will enter the kingdom of god..


    19. MissKatie on July 31st, 2008 11:45 am


    20. Don Wolf on August 1st, 2008 12:55 am

      Please don’t jump to the assumption that if “UU doesn’t believe in the Jesus of the bible,” or “UU denies the deity of Jesus,” that doesn’t mean individual members don’t.

      Visiting the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website can be a good intro, but it can also be confusing if you don’t know that the UUA does not dictate the positions of individual churches, or individual members. Each congregation is its own entity, choosing their own minister, voting on congregational governance, and choosing–as an individual congregation–which issues or positions to support. Each individual member is expected to conduct their own search for truth and meaning, and to follow the dictates of their own conscience.

      Congregations may choose not to follow the latest UUA projects or programs, and some congregations choose not to belong to the UUA.

      Some folks say we try to be all-inclusive, but I think of it as we try not to be exclusive. Unless they’re disruptive, anyone is welcome.

      It can be hard to get a handle on what Unitarian Universalists believe, because, as there is no creed or doctrine, there is no one thing to point to. For many of us, our focus is on what we have in common, which is often an interest in deepening our own spiritual beliefs and understanding the beliefs of others.

      Not agreeing with the beliefs of someone doesn’t diminish the spiritual development of either of us. If we do it respectfully and thoughtfully it can instead enrich our understanding of our own beliefs. In one way it’s a sort of an ongoing ecumenical inter-faith dialogue on how each of us connects to the divine.

      This means that in the UU congregation I belong to, we have Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Humanists, Atheists (honest!), Pagans, and a variety of other beliefs in all flavors and shades. Depending on the local community, the mix will vary from place to place.

      At least for me, what matters is that I am in a community of people who are honestly and sincerely working to develop and live an individual and personal relationship with the divine. Their search deepens mine.

      Much has been made of UUs general stance of accepting gays, lesbians, and trangendered people. Approval and acceptance can be two different things. Some of our individual members may not approve, but they are willing to open our hearts and our church doors to accept them into our community.

      Our principles hold that we should accept the inherent worth and dignity of each person. (I admit I sometimes struggle with this for some people, but it is a worthy goal.) That doesn’t mean we have to like them or agree with them. We do accept their right to live their lives, make their own choices, and have their own beliefs.

      Even Mr. Adkisson, the Knoxville shooter, has an inherent worth and dignity. He may have committed violent, hate-filled, and truly twisted acts, but he still deserves fair, just, and humane treatment.
      SM: There is a reason why there are so many different types of religion and so many denominations within those religions.

      Are you saying that Adkisson deserves a greater humane treatment than he gave to other church members? If it were not for the actions of God inspiring others to be brave and selfless in quickly tacklong Adkisson, this tragedy could have had a body count that dwarfed to VA Tech massacre.

    21. Don Wolf on August 1st, 2008 9:24 am

      Interesting how comments got added to the end of mine rather than as their own. Makes it harder to separate.

      R asks, “Are you saying that Adkisson deserves a greater humane treatment than he gave to other church members?”

      First, let me clarify that Adkisson was not, as far as I’ve read anyway, a member of that, or any other, UU congregation.

      Second, does he deserve more humane treatment than he gave the members of TVUU? Absolutely. His actions are not the standard we should use to determine our own. That would make us as twisted and disturbed as he is.

    22. Don Wolf on August 1st, 2008 9:35 am

      R also offered that, “If it were not for the actions of God inspiring others to be brave and selfless in quickly tacklong Adkisson, this tragedy could have had a body count that dwarfed to VA Tech massacre.”

      The origins of the word “inspire” go back to ideas of being filled with divine breath, of being animated and guided by the influence of the divine. When Greg McKendry stepped in front of that shotgun I believe he was “inspired.” I am very proud of how the members of that congregation reacted, and hope that, if the test ever comes, I too will be able to run toward, instead of away from, a threat to others in the hope of saving someone else.

    23. michael on August 6th, 2008 10:41 am

      honestly people soddom and gomorrah romans 1:24-28 OPEN UP YOUR EYES!!!! TIME IS SHORT UU or whatever they believe is not LOVE its lust which is sin why did the gunman come who sent the gunman was it god or was it satan Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is not a church this is hipocracy our forfathers presidents signers of the declaration of independence would roll over in their graves just turn your building into a gay and lesbian headquarters because your prayers arent getting no where READ THE WHOLE BIBLE NOT JUST PEICES

    24. Don Wolf on August 6th, 2008 2:37 pm

      For the record, Presidents John Adams (a Founding Father) and John Quincy Adams, and Paul Revere were Unitarians. Although Thomas Jefferson was not an official Unitarian, he makes his sympathies clear in comments such as:
      “The population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented with being a Unitarian by myself.”

      As far a gays and lesbians being welcome in our church, please don’t confuse acceptance with approval. Our doors are open to everyone, and as a part of our duty of hospitality, especially to those who do not feel welcome elsewhere.

    25. Sharon Campbell on August 7th, 2008 9:42 am

      Regarding #7

      Bob, saying those 2 people are in Hell reflects back on you and not them. Only God can judge and only God knows what was in their hearts.

      You have no way of knowing if either of these people accepted Jesus as their savior. You cannot tell that by which church they attended or even what their words to other people were.

      I recently attended grief and trauma counseling at a Baptist church which had a shooting in 1999. The counselor was one of the people shot. He commented that he has a 96 year old grandmother who is a Unitarian. I thought he would be very worried about her because at that age, she can’t have many more years to live. He said he wasn’t worried at all because she accepted Christ years ago and if she feels a need at this stage of her life to be in a church that focuses on social relationships, that’s not going to hurt anything.

      Linda Lee was a Christian when she was a child. One of her cousins remembers when she was saved. The Southern Baptist trauma therapist said that once someone accepts Christ that God simply will not let them wander off without going after them. He is more powerful than to limit Himself to one way of communicating with His own. If intelectual ideas and hateful people talking about Christianity caused her to mistrust, then God has other ways of reaching her. She never backed down on the commitment she made to God. She reflected His perfect love all her life and she is now with God.

      You might want to check your own heart. You can talk about believing in Jesus all you want but remember that Satan and all the demons also believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. They believe that. It takes more than believing the right doctrine. It takes turning your life over to Jesus and God.

    26. mindy on April 26th, 2009 4:58 pm

      I am a Jewish Unitarian Universalist.

      My four children were dedicated by Christian Unitarian ministers.

      We unitarians believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every living thing.

      We teach our children tolerance and to find justice in truth and love. If that is Satanic I say he must have been born again becaouse that sounds like the creedo of every faithe when you look past all the liturgy..

      bleesed be to all of you and shalom

      wish these things had spell check.

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