By now, you may have heard about an incident during the 11:15am service yesterday. As I was delivering my sermon, a man sitting in one of our upper rows collapsed and fell over. It was a traumatic experience for us all and a powerful reminder of the fragility of life. I don’t believe that anything like this has ever happened during a UUCA worship in all our 50+ years.
Before I say anything else, please know that the man is currently in good condition. Seminarian-in-residence Duncan Teague testifies to this. Duncan accompanied him to the Emory Hospital and sat with him during tests, etc. Duncan says, “By the time the doctors were discussing his tests and how the evening would proceed, he and I had been talking about his family, his previous relationship with UUCA, and his travels and work. We were laughing and the few hours passed quickly. The man seemed to be doing a lot better.”
Our pastoral caregivers also visited the man this morning, so we are making sure that he is feeling cared for. (In the interests of privacy, I am not releasing this person’s name out to the public.)
As for what happened during the service. One congregant felt that “the emergency was handled very expertly.” Another congregant described it like this:
“What Troopers!! Yesterday at church, an attendee collapsed. Calm prevailed… Our Minister stopped the sermon; 911 and relatives were called; our own first responders (a police officer, two nurses, and cardiologist) went to work; the congregation remained seated; the band moved its gear to make a way for the paramedics; we had prayer, meditation, healing thoughts; the Minister of Music did a solo; our Minister and nurses kept us informed.
“After the paramedics wheeled out our member for transport to the hospital for tests (alert and accompanied by friends) – our Minister addressed our need to care for ourselves today given this experience.
“He asked permission to continue the service (we are a democratic congregation); we sang ‘Spirit of Life’; he resumed the sermon; the band got the gear back up in minutes, and they played our final song; the service concluded a half hour late; we left in fellowship.”
Calm did prevail, and I want to express my sincere appreciation to the congregation for this. When the going gets rough, we stick together. We take care of each other.
Let me also re-emphasize how a traumatic experience like this can get under your skin. It can bring up difficult emotions and fears. Please take care of yourself. Let the ministers know if we can be of assistance to you. And above all, remember these lines from a colleague of mine, which I used to conclude the 11:15am worship service:
Take courage friends.
The way is often hard, the path is never clear
And the stakes are very high.
For deep down, there is another truth.
You are not alone.