[We hold First Congregational UCC Albuquerque in our prayers. Senior Pastor Sue Joiner is currently on sabbatical, and wrote to the congregation upon learning some tragic news.]
My dear beloved community,
I have grieved with you as we lost Betty Oostenbrug and Glenn Norris since I have been away. And now, I grieve with you as we live with the tragic loss of Laura and Shanta Hanish. By now, you have likely seen the news reports of their murder. Laura and Shanta were members of this community. Laura started the monthly change for change program.
It is human nature to want to make sense of this devastating loss. I don’t believe we will ever make sense of it. It is senseless. Laura and Shanta were bright lights whose love profoundly impacted those around them.
We may be waiting to hear more about what took them from the world. We may get some answers. We may not. It seems to me that our task now is to honor their lives the best way we can.
As a social worker in the public defender’s office for more than 24 years, Laura worked closely with people who have committed some horrific crimes. Laura didn’t excuse them but she saw their humanity and extended compassion. She treated them with kindness. Shanta was also kind. Shanta worked long hard hours in school and her job as a lifeguard. When she struggled in a class, she showed up and met it courageously.
I love Laura and Shanta. I love all of you. I am so sorry to be far away in the midst of this tragedy.
It comforts me to know you have one another and Lynne is with you. You are a community of beautiful beloved people. You are in my heart every single day. I am so grateful for each of you and I love you all.
I am praying with you. Please join me in praying for Laura and Shanta’s family and all who loved them. May we honor their lives by allowing compassion to be our guide in the world each day.
A memorial service for Laura and Shanta will be Saturday, June 29th at 11 am in our sanctuary. Paul Hook will need volunteers to serve in a number of ways and Sue Baugh will need help with food for the reception. Please contact Paul or Sue if you can help.
I love you and will be so happy to be with you again in September.
May God bless you and keep you,