Immanuel Lutheran Church Rev. Michael Heiden said church leaders reached out to Journey Lutheran Church in Oxford shortly after Nov. 30, 2021, to see how it could assist the Oxford community as it continued to cope with the aftermath of the Oxford High School shootings.
The Oxford church recently began a new ministry to provide more assistance to those in need of counseling throughout the Oxford community as its residents continue to deal with the emotional aftereffects of the shooting incident. Heiden said Immanuel chose to offer financial support to the endeavor. In its Dec. 16, 2021 church newsletter, Immanuel announced that financial offerings for Journey Lutheran Church’s counseling ministry project would be accepted at the door on Sunday, Dec.19, 2021. Online offerings were accepted via an online giving portal at immlutheran.org/ until Dec. 31, 2021. As of Jan. 3, Immanuel had collected $4,596 for Journey Lutheran Church’s counseling ministry project.
“The number of people seeking counseling went up dramatically, and understandably so,” Heiden said.
Rev. Matt Schuler of Journey Lutheran Church said that although the Oxford community received a lot of initial support shortly after the shooting incident, it became clear that long-term emotional and mental health assistance would be needed for many community members.
“I think even at this point, where we are five weeks removed from the shooting, we still, I think as a community, we are trying, we are still in the process of discovering the depths of the wounds people have, the physical, you know, wounds, but also mentally and spiritually, you know, the psychological wounds, manifest over a long, long time. That is really the basis for what we are trying to do,” Schuler said.
He added Journey developed the idea of helping to meet this need by creating a fund to help pay for the needed long-term counseling and mental health care in the community.
“A lot of churches sent notes of support and prayer, phone calls, text messages, stuff like that. One of the things we noticed was a need, once all the initial support started to fade away, that there was going to be a need for long term care,” Schuler said, adding the church is working with different mental health organizations to provide assistance and referrals. Schuler said financial support for Journey’s counseling ministry can still be made via journeylutheran.church/give.
Immanuel Lutheran Church also has an ongoing Prayer Blanket Ministry, which provides blankets and pillows to those in need of comfort and warmth. Heiden said that the ministry created 200 Prayer Pillows for the Oxford community, which were donated to Journey Lutheran Church the first week in January.
Armada High School’s band and orchestra program, which has 108 students, contributed to the comfort of Oxford in a different way, by joining the many U.S. schools that have performed the Oxford High School fight song and posted their performances online.
“All of our band and orchestra students joined together to close our concert on Dec. 16 with the Oxford High School fight song in memory of the four lives lost and in solidarity with the Oxford community,” Bobek said.
Bobek has ties to the Oxford community, as he spent almost two years in a student teaching field placement at Oxford Middle School from 2011-2013, while he was earning an undergraduate degree at Oakland University. He also mentioned professional ties to Oxford High School among other Armada Area Schools staff.
“When I heard about the incident at Oxford High School, I immediately knew we needed to do something for the students over there,” Bobek said. “I sent messages out to Armada’s band and orchestra students to write letters and cards to send over to Oxford band and orchestra students to help support them in their time of need. We had a student in our band program pass away from a tragic car accident this past summer, and I saw the pain and devastation that can put on students and how challenging it can be to push through such a difficult time.”
Bobek also seized the opportunity to have his music students perform the Oxford High fight song despite the demands of a holiday concert season.
“Because of the way our scheduling works in our building, our students only had three days to rehearse the OHS fight song music prior to our concert. In addition, the three individual ensembles had never had the opportunity to practice playing it all together until the concert itself,” Bobek said. “I knew it would be a challenge to throw together in such short order, but we have great students in Armada – they worked extremely hard to get the music ready in a very short amount of time, in large part because they were honored to have the opportunity to do something for the students of Oxford.”
Bobek said that the fight song music was made available to music directors by Oxford Middle School Band Director Brad Schmaltz and Oxford High School Orchestra Director Marissa Weller through the Michigan Band Directors Facebook group.
“I believe over 100 high school and college band, choir and orchestra programs have sent videos over to the Oxford music directors to play for the students of Oxford. It was truly an honor to be able to play their fight song in our building in memory and honor of the lives lost in the Oxford High School tragedy,” Bobek said.
Video of Armada High School’s symphonic band, string orchestra and jazz ensemble performing the Oxford High School fight song can be seen at fb.watch/adGC68KtH-.