Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin asked families and friends of the victims of the Marshall County High School shooting gather on the stage of a local art center as he declared Sunday, January 28, 2018 'A Day of Prayer for Marshall County.'
Bevin offered words of encouragement and faith and called for prayer, while criticizing those who 'mock' the sentiment of "thoughts and prayers."
Police say a 15-year-old male student of Marshall County High School entered the school and fired a handgun, killing two - Bailey Holt and Preston Cope - and injuring 18 others. Police have not identified the shooter, but say he was nonviolently apprehended and that prosecutors are looking The shooting has drawn international attention and shaken rural Marshall County to the core.
As students returned to the high school on Friday, Bevin delivered a speech at the Marshall County Children's Art Center. Praising the community response, he said, "What we do and what we say and how we conduct ourselves at times like this send powerful messages. Some audible, some visual. But it sends powerful messages about who we are. About what this community is about. About what neighboring communities are like. About who comes together."
He said faith and family get people through times like this and that Marshall County is blessed with an abundance of it. He said people of faith, while grieving and hurting, don't grieve the same as others, "Because there is hope. There is an eternal perspective. And you're the embodiment of that and I'm proud of you."
He said people outside of the immediate community are praying. "People all over the country. People all over the world. The number of people that I've had conversation with: world leaders, national level leaders, state level leaders. People outside of this community far and wide who are pouring in their thoughts and prayers."
The said the notion of 'thoughts and prayers' is mocked by some, but added that the power of prayer "Is a real thing. it's a powerful, powerful thing." He said social media trolls will scorn and mock those who turn to faith in times of mourning.
Last year, Bevin drew criticism from Louisville pastors last year for his calls to prayer as a solution to gun violence.
Referencing this criticism, Bevin said to be bold in prayer "even when you find people that are from the supposed faith based community in some areas who mock themselves the idea of prayer as I found shockingly when I called people to prayer in one of our urban cities and I had pastors of churches mocking the idea that prayer was the answer, publicly, to the media."
Pastors told WHAS at the time that his solution was a "political ploy" and "an embarrassment to Christianity."
He said calls to prayer have sustained the United States since its founding. "And those who want to dismiss this and poo-poo this as part of some antiquated notion have a complete failure of understanding our history," he said.
Bevin encouraged people to read Miracles in American History: 32 Amazing Stories of Answered Prayer by Susie Federer.
"The world will be made better for the loss that we have experienced. So I do humbly call this community and the larger state to specific action," he said.
Bevin then read a proclamation that Sunday, January 28, 2018 will be A Day of Prayer for Marshall County.