Tragedy rocked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the United States of America at large, on February 14, 2018, when a 19-year-old man opened fire on the high school campus with an AR-15, killing 17 and injuring 14.
An Adventist Pathfinder member and high school junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Samantha Grady, is among the survivors. In an interview for NBC, she recounts the horrific experience. Grady had been working on an assignment in class when shots were heard in the hallway. Her best friend and fellow church member shoved her down, and everyone took cover huddling behind bookcases. As bullets came showering through the glass of the door, Grady’s friend told her to use a book to shield herself as many students behind them were hit. “It was a tiny book, but I took a book and I held it up.” Her best friend “didn’t make it,” Grady said, fighting tears.
Since the day of the shooting, hot debate over gun control has been at the forefront of the news, driven especially by the Parkland shooting survivors. All sorts of individuals and groups have responded, including the Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
According to reports by the NAD and Adventist Today, W. Derrick Lea, director of ACS DR, jumped into action following the incident. Lea contacted the American Red Cross to find out if the disaster response team could be of any assistance. He also contacted the Florida and Southeastern Regional conference directors, asking them to gather available emotional and spiritual care providers as a resource for those affected.
Upon learning that the high school already had spiritual and emotional care providers in place, the ACS DR teams from both Florida and Southeastern Regional conferences set up a help center at the Pompano Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church, open Feb. 16 through 17. "Our local ACS DR plans to offer this help to the community—if people want to come in and talk—with certified emotional and spiritual care providers, and will be prepared to assist if other needs come up," Lea told the NAD last month.
The NAD implores Adventists to “keep our communities in prayer” through this time. The Student Movement reached out to ACS DR for an update on their activities, but have not yet received a response.