An LCMS Murder

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A man identified as the “youth pastor” of Grace Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Chester, Virginia, shot to death his wife, his step-daughter, and her boyfriend on Thanksgiving.

First of all, the perpetrator, Christopher R. Gattis, 58, is NOT a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  His name is not on the roster of synod, which means he is not a member of the ordained ministry, nor is he commissioned as a called teacher, director of Christian education, or lay minister.

Apparently, the congregation hired him to work with its youth, then gave him the title.  (If anyone knows differently, please say so in the comments, but I could find no trace of him in the synod directories.)

Nor was this a case of “church violence.”  The murders took place at Gattis’s home.

Not that this mitigates in any way the horror of what happened.  But it is another example of domestic conflict exploding into violence, even among church goers.

Slain were  Jeanett Gattis (58), her daughter Candice Kunze (30), and her boyfriend, Andrew Buthorn (36).  Gattis was arrested and is in custody.  The motive is not clear.

For more details, go here.

Of course this is heartbreaking for the church.  And I am sure that it is especially traumatic for the youth whom he was leading.  Here is the statement released by the congregation.  From Chester youth pastor is charged in Thanksgiving triple homicide at his home:

“Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester, and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church,” the church said in a statement that requested privacy for the family and its congregation.

“Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.

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