Source: (1999) In God and the victim: Theological reflections on evil, victimization, justice, and forgiveness, ed. Lisa Barnes Lampman and Michelle D. Shattuck, 235-249. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; and Neighbors Who Care: Washington, D.C.

With considerable experience as pastor of a church, Lee Earl reflects concretely on the spiritual problem of crime and pastoral response to crime. He recounts the story of a homicide and his church’s reaction to it. That homicide, which occurred near his church and right after a Saturday evening choir rehearsal, became a test of the faith commitments of the church and of himself as a pastor. The victim was not a member of the church. Yet church members had some acquaintance with the victim and her family, and a few leaving the church that Saturday evening heard the shots and came upon the victim and her children. In the aftermath of the victim’s death, the church faced hard questions about its response to the incident and the family of the victim. Earl traces his role and the church’s journey in reaching out in love and support to the victim’s family and the neighborhood. As a result, the church became a catalyst for community regeneration.