'Dad did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus': There's a strong religion angle after Aurora shooting

As you probably heard, a workplace shooting in Aurora, Ill., claimed the lives of five people on Friday.

One of the victims was a husband and father named Josh Pinkard.

Now, a moving Facebook post by Pinkard’s grieving wife, Terra, is making national headlines. And yes, there’s a strong religion angle. By the way, be sure to grab a tissue before reading the rest of this post.

I learned of the wife’s post when I saw a tweet this morning by Daniel Darling, vice president for communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“Unbelievably tragic story,” wrote Darling, linking to a compelling Chicago Tribune report.


The Tribune — like national media such as CNN and USA Today — opens with the gripping revelation that Josh Pinkard texted his wife in his final moments:

For Terra Pinkard, the nightmare began with an ominous text from her husband: “I love you, I’ve been shot at work.”

Pinkard would soon learn that her husband, Josh Pinkard, was among the five people killed when a co-worker who was being terminated from Henry Pratt Co. opened fire. Pinkard, 37, was the manager of the plant, where water valves are made.

In a Facebook message posted on Sunday, Terra Pinkard said it took her “several times reading it for it to hit me that it was real.”

Keep reading, though, and the wife’s Christian faith becomes readily apparent. After describing Terra Pinkard’s various attempts to find out information about her husband‘s status, the Tribune notes that she ended up at a staging area for victims’ families:

There, another officer read a list of fatalities; her husband’s name was on it.

“I immediately left and went to get my kids,” she wrote. Out-of-state family members were still on flights into the Chicago area — Josh Pinkard hailed from the small town of Holly Pond, Ala., though his immediate family now lives in Oswego — so Terra Pinkard said her pastor supported her as she broke the news to her children.

“I told my children that their dad did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus,” she wrote. “I’ve never had to do something that hard.”

Wow. I can’t even imagine how difficult that would be.

The Tribune doesn’t offer any more details about the family’s specific church or pastor. Ordinarily, these are the kind of details that we at GetReligion would advocate including in a news story. After all, faith obviously is important to this family, so the specifics matter in reporting the news.

But in this case, the wife’s Facebook post also says:

I’ve been asked so many times by the media to talk about him. I literally can’t talk out loud about this lovely man without breaking down in sobs. 

So no, the wife isn’t submitting to interviews, which makes it impossible for news reports to offer context beyond what was included on Facebook. And my hope would be that the media leave this wife alone until, and if, she wants to tell her family’s story in more depth. That decision — and the timing of it — should be hers and hers alone.

In quickly scanning her Facebook page, I did see a previous post that did not make headlines but nonetheless contains a few more snippets of Terra Pinkard’s strong faith.

I’ll end this post with her words in that post from Saturday:

I lost the love of my life yesterday in a tragic workplace shooting. The world is darker and more sad now. A huge bright light has left this world. But God. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I am lost and devastated beyond words. Things that mattered yesterday do not matter today. I will praise the Lord for giving me this mountain of a man. I will praise the Lord for the children we have together. And I will cry out to God during this immense time of sadness and need. Please remember us in the coming days, months, and years. We are scared and are trying to catch our breath and just putting one foot in front of the other.

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