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West Central Abbey Holds Prayer Service for Man Killed by Police on Easter, Seeks Community Healing

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By Mia Gallegs | FāVS News

Wednesday night, West Central Abbey in Spokane held a service to pray for a man who was shot and killed in front of their church on Easter Sunday.

The situation transpired on Sunday night when a resident of the West Central neighborhood called 911 after seeing smoke and fire coming from a house two doors down from the abbey. After law enforcement arrived and determined that this was likely a case of arson, they began questioning those who had been in the house during the time that the fire had started. Alan Jenks, one of the men being questioned, failed to comply with police orders during his questioning. Jenks began walking towards West Central Abbey when the officers on the scene attempted to detain him, resulting in him pulling a gun that he had hidden on him and firing at the officers. The officers returned fire and ultimately killed Jenks, who suffered from fatal wounds, according to police reports.

The Rev. Katy Shedlock, the pastor of West Central Abbey, and her husband, live a block north of where this killing took place. Rev. Jonathan Myers, West Central Abbey’s vicar and co-founder, also lives in close proximity to the home that Jenks had walked away from before he was killed. Many members of the West Central Abbey are residents within the neighborhood as well, so Shedlock felt it was necessary for the congregation to come together and pray for this soul that was lost on one of the most holy days in the church.

Congregation Gathers to Grieve and Respond with Love

“I think we needed a place to go with our grief and then begin to think about how we respond with love to the best of our ability,” Shedlock said, in explaining what she had hoped that the congregation would take away from the prayer service that was held at the West Central Abbey. 

The service began outside of the church, where Shedlock led those in attendance in an opening prayer and a short reflection from her about the love that all human life deserves, that love coming from God.

“He bore the sacred image of God,” Shedlock said, referencing Jenks. “Nothing that he ever did or was suspected of doing changes that fact.”

Rituals of Remembrance and Compassion

Jenks has been highlighted for his failure to comply with orders from law enforcement and for the action he took thereafter that resulted in his death. Shedlock took a more compassionate approach to remembering the man who passed away on the Abbey’s front doorstep.

“We mourn a life cut short. We mourn the lost opportunities for second chances and new beginnings. We commend Alan to God’s eternal love and we pray for the repose of his soul,” Shedlock said. 

Shedlock then led participants over to the place on the sidewalk in which Jenks passed away. She blessed it with holy water as the congregation joined together in song. The singing continued as the members of the church made their way into the chapel to begin the next section of the service: a somatic processing session led by Andrea Farley, an active member of the congregation.

Lifting Up All Lives Through Song

Farley led the congregation in an exercise where they sang the words of the traditional Easter hymn “Jesus, Remember Me,” replacing the pronoun to address each of the afflicted parties within the tragedy that took place.

“We will be lifting up Alan. We will lift up the emergency responders. We will lift up our leaders here at the Abbey who were approximate to the violence. We will lift up our West Central neighbors and we will lift up ourselves,” Farley said before the exercise.

Beginning with Jenks, she sang “Jesus, remember him when you come into your kingdom,” and then again with the appropriate pronouns for each of the preceding individuals. This served as a form of meditation for the members of the West Central Abbey to lift those whom they grieved for up to the heavens. 

Grieving Community Seeks Healing and Change

Shedlock then opened the floor for members of the church to share how this situation has affected them within the past few days. Most members expressed a deep sorrow, much of it for the life lost and also for the fact that this death occurred on a day that celebrates new life. Others expressed anger for the lack of systematic changes that have taken place within law enforcement practices.

“I’ve lived in West Central since 1987. I’m always like ‘oh maybe some of the violence is behind us,’ [but] there’s always something that happens. It’s part of the legacy of this neighborhood that doesn’t seem to go away. I’m incredibly sad and incredibly disturbed,” said one member of the congregation.

Following this period of vulnerability and sharing among those in attendance at the service, Shedlock asked if anyone had any ideas for ways that the community can move forward collectively and with love. One woman suggested that the congregation get together to create a community garden in honor of the life lost. Another man suggested that they get a group together to go to city council to show their collective concern with the consistently unsafe legacy that the West Central neighborhood hasn’t ceased to uphold. Other suggestions continued to flow throughout the church, proving the profound eagerness of this community to join together during this time of strife.

The members of the West Central Abbey continue their Easter season with rather heavy hearts. However, they are working in solidarity to find ways to change the narrative for their home of West Central and to lead with hearts of compassion in all of their efforts to do so.

Mia Gallegos
Mia Gallegos
Mia Gallegos is a junior studying Journalism and Digital Marketing at Gonzaga University. Her love for journalism began in high school within her hometown of Broomfield, Colorado. She has written for the Gonzaga Bulletin since she first began at GU. Aside from writing, she is a passionate dancer and member of the Gonzaga University Bomb Squad, GU’s exclusively Hip-Hop dance team. Mia is a dedicated Catholic and is excited to be interning with FāVS during the Spring 2024 semester. She is looking forward to learning about religions aside from her own and to gain more journalistic prowess by working with the skilled reporters of FāVS.

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