Ever since last Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the whole nation has been hurting. Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were killed Dec. 14 when a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary Schoo and began firing. Now, people are looking for ways to reach out to the grieving and ease their pain any way they can. Many are sending cards and money to the victims’ families. Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church has decided to send roses, a poignant symbol of love and compassion.
“I came up with this idea while sitting at home Sunday morning before church,” said Brent Baggett, a member of Wesley Chapel, located in Sampson County but with a Godwin address.
He was reviewing his Sunday School lesson, he said, and read a story about a little girl who comforted a neighbor when the woman’s child was killed while riding a bicycle. “The little girl said she didn’t say anything to her neighbor. She just cried with her. It just hit me from there. I felt like we needed to do something.”
Baggett initially considered sending dogwood trees, but ultimately decided on rose bushes. “I have roses at my house and I just think they’re really pretty. I presented the idea to the church Sunday and they thought it was a good. We talked to Joyce and Elton Hudson and they generously agreed to donate the rose bushes,” noted Baggett.
The Hudson’s son, Mike, owns Sampson Nursery, Inc. and they were honored to send some of their roses to people very much in need of a little beauty in their lives. “We thought it was a great idea,” said Mike Hudson. “We just hope that it will help the children’s families and the school and community to heal, knowing that others across the country are thinking of them.”
The church will send one Knockout rose bush per victim to the grieving families. The boys’ families will receive red rose bushes and the girls’ families will receive pink ones. Rose bushes will also be given to the school, the fire department, and the emergency responders. Each will receive two rose bushes, one red and one pink.
A couple of Wesley Chapel members also handwrote special notes of encouragement to accompany each rose bush.
“There’s nothing we can really do to help them get over such a loss. All we can do is spread God’s love to them during this difficult time,” said Baggett. “We want to let them know that there are people all over this nation that care. We are just a small, family church in North Carolina and we care about them. We hurt for them. We hope that they can plant these rose bushes, and then when they see the roses bloom, be reminded of the children and their smiles.”
Four members of Wesley Chapel, Baggett and his son Nick, fellow church member Steve Godwin, and pastor Kyle Burrows, left this morning around 5 a.m. to deliver the 32 rose bushes. They will travel a little over 600 miles before arriving in Newtown Friday morning at 9 a.m. to present their gift to the families and the town.
“We’re the hands and feet of Jesus and this is something the church needs to do,” said Burrows, fighting back tears. “We need to bring God’s love to a place that evil visited.”