Pepperdine freshman among the dead after California mass shooting
It's been a somber day on the campus of Pepperdine…
‘To Pepperdine: You are not alone in this tragedy.”
As Pepperdine University grieves the death of freshman Alaina Housley in Wednesday night’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., its sister universities across the U.S. are offering their prayers and support.
“Father, we pray in a special way today for our friends at Pepperdine University. We pray for their students,” Bruce McLarty, president of Harding University in Searcy, Ark., said to God during Thursday’s daily chapel assembly.
“We pray for all the people that work there. I’m praying for my friend President Andy Benton as they maneuver their way through a very very difficult day,” said McLarty, as reported by The Bison, Harding’s student newspaper. “Father, we pray for the students. We pray for their safety. Father, we pray for healing in this world in midst of all the brokenness.”
Often, higher education institutions associated with Churches of Christ compete for the same dwindling pool of students.
But in a time such as this, their common faith in Jesus draws them together.
“There are no words that can make the situation better, but I think prayer is the most powerful thing you can do,” Heather Corbin, a sophomore at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., told The Tennessean. She was among several hundred Lipscomb students who gathered for a special prayer vigil Thursday.
David Shannon, president of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., said on Instagram that he was “praying for the Pepperdine family, the Thousand Oaks community and America in the midst of this pain.” He pointed to Psalm 46, which refers to God as “our refuge and strength.”
Tim Perrin, president of Lubbock Christian University in Texas and a former longtime Pepperdine faculty member and administrator, said on Facebook: “We are lifting up in prayer the Pepperdine community and the families and friends of those affected by this tragedy.”
Housley’s family confirmed that the 18-year-old English major was at the Borderline Bar and Grill when a gunman walked in and opened fire.
“Words can’t describe our grief over losing our daughter, Alaina,” Arik and Hannah Housley said in a Facebook post. “She was everything we could hope for in a child: kind, smart, beautiful and respectful.”
Twelve people, including Housley and a sheriff’s deputy, were killed before the gunman turned the Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun on himself.
Housley had gone to Borderline with a group of friends. They were enjoying “College Country Night,” a night when the dance hall opens to those 18 and up, when the chaos started. Sixteen Pepperdine students were in the crowd. All were quickly accounted for, except Housley.
At Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, junior Keaton Ross wrote an emotional column for the campus newspaper, The Talon, noting that his sister, Kendall, a Pepperdine sophomore, had gone with friends to the same establishment last April.
“This mass shooting hits too close to home,” said the column’s title. (As the father of Keaton and Kendall Ross, this correspondent must agree.)
Back at ACU, President Phil Schubert told faculty, staff and students in an email: “Pepperdine and ACU have deep roots in Churches of Christ and the broader American Restoration Movement. Our institutional history and family trees are intertwined with cherished friendships and meaningful partnerships of many kinds. … We are one in Christ, and today, we are all Pepperdine Waves as well.”
The Optimist concluded its editorial with these words:
“To Pepperdine: We are in constant prayer for your students, faculty and staff, as well as the families affected by the death of Housley. There is unimaginable pain in losing those close to you, a pain we have come to know all too well. Remember as you grieve, you are not alone.”
Even as it mourns, Pepperdine faces another threat: Classes were canceled and offices closed Friday because of wildfires.
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