My thoughts and prayers go with the families of those who lost loved ones in the highway tragedy at Colonial Hills Baptist church.

We’ve had harsh words in the past for Chuck Phelps but today I hope we can set those things aside and weep with those who weep. Nobody deserves to lose a child, a brother, a sister, a father or mother this way. Anyone who would follow the darker angels of their nature to find some sense of retribution here runs the risk of losing both their humanity and my sympathy.

Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of those for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in your mercy; nourish them with patience; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; lift up your countenance upon them; and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

83 thoughts on “Tragedy”

  1. I saw this when I was at the gym yesterday, but I wasn’t paying attention other than it was a church bus. So sad.

  2. Sad indeed. No matter how much pain or damage Chuck and his like have caused, death or injury are never things I will rejoice over when they are faced with them.

  3. Father, may you grant tender mercy for those with broken hearts and crushed spirits.

  4. There will be other days to criticize Chuck Phelps and his camp.
    Today I’m just grief stricken for him and everyone else who is suffering because of this accident.

    Show them your mercy, Lord.

  5. Despite how anyone feels about Chuck Phelps this is indeed horrific and a sad day in our lives. May God be with these people.

  6. Our pastor prayed for the kids going to camp this week, including prayers for their safety. Over the years I have come to never take that for granted any more. A friend who is connected to Colonial Hills but is now in another state sent this story to me last night while waiting for her own child to arrive home from camp. Horrific situation, something that will take a long time for the church and the families to overcome.

    My Bible App verse of the day…”Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” Psalm 55:22 ESV

    My prayers are definitely with the Phelps family today, and with the Church family of Colonial Hills. May God’s grace and peace be with all of them at this time.

  7. Christ have mercy. Prayers for healing, courage, & provision for all the victims & families.

  8. May God send His peace and healing to all involved. This is too horrific for words.

  9. I was saddened to read about this. I pray for the injured and their families. I know that this is a time of heartbreak for the ones who lost a loved one. I pray that God will bring them comfort. I cannot imagine how terrible this time is for them.

  10. It was powerful reading the comments on their Facebook page – not only Baptist churches but other churches in Indy – United Methodist and Roman Catholic. Power how the body of Christ can support one another.

  11. I don’t pray. But if there is a fund to help the families, I will gladly give. This is horrifying.

  12. Our church prayed for them during the service & the Pastor reminded the people to keep the families in prayer.

    Here is a website to donate money for those taking care of their son that survived. I do not know if they had life insurance or not, but the child and caretakers need all the help they can get right now.
    Also, the other person who died appears to have five children,one being a special needs child. I am not sure how to get information on helping her family as well. I agree that even if we have differences and arguments, this should be handled how Christ would handle it. Showing our love and support, whether it is through prayers, notes, or money, can show how great God is through something this terrible.

  14. I knew the couple who died. I knew him slightly more than she. He was in my dorm my first semester at Maranatha. He was the exact same age as I am and it really hits home the mortality of it all. My heart breaks for his family and the whole church. No one should have to go through this.

  15. What kind words….time to take a break from the battles of religion and reach out to our brothers and sisters who are hurting today. I cannot imagine walking into the pulpit today with the loss of a son and daughter in law on his mind. My thoughts and prayers go to the church and family. May God be the Jehovah Shalom – the God who is our peace – be what they need today. Amen.

  16. What an unspeakable tragedy. Lord Jesus, be their unspeakable comfort and strength; give those who grieve and the injured Your peace that is beyond all understanding. I give you all thanks and praise in and through all things. Amen.

  17. No one is immune to tragedy, to suffering. 😥 May the families of Colonial Hills Baptist Church find peace, and may the God of All Comfort be there for them.

  18. For all the differences I have with Chuck Phelps and his ilk, this is not the day to remember them. May God grant comfort and courage to the survivors, and take the dead to Himself.

  19. Eternal rest grant to them O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

  20. If this type of tragedy were to happen to someone Chuck Phelps did not like, he would probably assume it was a justified punishment from god. Remember how Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberson reacted after 9-11; instead of sympathy for the victims, they want on blame almost everyone.
    Chuck probably blamed Tina Anderson for her own rape.
    Many of us raised in IFB have experience this, instead of sympathy in our time of need, we are exposed to people make blood sport of our suffering, speculating of what awful sin we committed to incur god’s wrath. Just so these petty people can feel some sense of moral superiority.
    Today, Chuck is probably getting better treatment then he ever gave.
    Maybe this will be a teachable moment for Chuck, but I doubt it.

    1. Ephesians 4:32-33 MSG
      “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
      I support helping people that need help, no matter what they are associated with. Now is not the time for those comments.

      1. I feel like Mark is saying what many are thinking. I was reading posts on their church FB page and read the most beautiful post from the priest at the neighboring church. I think Mark, and many are hoping this will help the see the larger body of Christ.

      2. Now is fine with me to make the comment that Chuck is having it better than he deserve. Just because he has a tragedy does not mean he still isn’t the ill spirited man that he is. You know full well what Chuck would say if it happened to someone he thought not right with God by his standards not Gods. He would say the judgment of God has come down on them. Maybe it this time came down on him (Chuck). Ever think of that Chuck. My dad does this at his church. When our son died he blamed me and my wife. We obviously were not living right. Whatever.They (IFB) live in their own little world. Everybody that does not go along with them are wrong. Maybe they are. Its between me and God not me and them. I think what Chuck did in the past was wrong and the IFB’s held him up for some reason. My dad and Chuck are friends I knew them but I think that Chuck is the one being punished here. What comes around goes around. Hard as it may be to understand.

        1. It truly does rain upon the just and the unjust alike. I’m sorry to hear about your son and for how you were treated.

          In our finite minds, it is easy to attribute tragedies like this to judgment from God or karma, but who really knows? Was God judging Phelps, his son, his daughter-in-law and her family, the bus driver, or even the 5 children of the other lady who died? I like to think not, at least in most of those cases.

          Bless those that curse you. Love your enemy. Do not revile in return. Those are great messages from the Word. I’ll leave wrath and vengeance to God and realize he died for these people just like he died for me. I pray for their comfort right now.

    2. With respect to all, I agree with Mark. It is a horrible tragedy and those in need of help should receive it. I particularly grieve for the special needs child that lost his mother. However, it is to be expected that at some point the church will blame the victims as well as blaming God. Both responses are quite human but both are also quite wrong.

      If a school bus overturns and there are deaths or injuries, we grieve with the parents and students but also believe that the school district should be held accountable for careless maintenance, negligent driving, poor staffing, etc. The lawyer in me finds it surprising that there have been no calls for accountability in this situation, as is almost always the case in similar tragedies.

      While we grieve with those who grieve, let us not forget that this young couple would not have died in this accident had young Mr. Phelps never been given an undeserved pastorate, but for his last name, in the first place. I also find it disturbing that a special needs child was so profoundly affected by this situation given that Mr. Phelps was well known for taunting and mocking special needs students when he was at Bible College. I want to be clear: I don’t think Mr. Phelps “deserved” to die. But this was an avoidable death and thus is all the more tragic.

      In addition to its ill-advised staffing choices, the church clearly dropped the ball on bus maintenance. Brake failures like these are almost impossible under normal circumstances. I myself almost lost friends in my IFB youth group when, over the course of a year, three poorly-maintained church vans blew tires and nearly wrecked.

      I am sorry if it sounds “retributive” to say all of this, but the reality is that the IFB church killed these people plain and simple. And I, for one, am very angry about that. When an institution gets so out of control that it is costing people their lives, there simply has to be accountability. It is only by the grace of God that this sort of thing does not happen more often. Our God-given impulse for mercy must be balanced by a sense of justice for the victims of this needless tragedy.

      1. I beleive that was a highly inappropriate comment, and unless the investigation is finished, it was also very presumptuous.

        The decedent may have been a mocker of the handicapped, but I’m curious what you know that could substantiate that claim. On second thought, I don’t need to know. What good is it to speak ill of the dead?

        God had it right when he judged Edom for laughing at Israel in the day of their calamity. Accountability is good, but suffering people don’t need others to pile on to their misery. And when ex-fundies do so, they only prove themselves to not have really shed their judgmental fundamentalist mindset.

        1. I fear that it does not bode well for our society that accountability has come to be perceived as blameworthy in the context of tragedy. When the recent tornado blew through Moore, Oklahoma, and killed many small children, it was appropriate to fault the schools for refusing to build appropriate storm shelters and/or release students early on the day of the storm. Yet, the school maintained a steady line of “Don’t blame us. Let’s focus on the children and families who are grieving and on rebuilding our community and school.” The problem with that is that justice demands responsibility, accountability, and blame. Just because these things don’t “feel good” doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

          Like many fundamentalists, you are allowing the processing of emotions surrounding the tragedy to serve as a proxy for outrage over victims who did not have to die. An event like this should lead to a public outpouring of grief and support, as it did. But it should also lead to a public outcry. And that is not wrong.

        2. Society will be just fine. Tragedy is not the time for commenters to be be trying to find accountability. The crash cause is being investigated by authorities, and should be left to them. There’s a time for blame, the immediate aftermath by those who don’t have facts isn’t the time or the person/people to be assigning blame.

        3. The thing is, RobM, many of us do have special “insider knowledge” in this matter, perhaps not of accident reconstruction, but of the rotten inner workings of the IFB cult. We know with near certainty that their flippant disregard for the law, negligent conduct with respect to their members, and utterly incompetent leadership were contributing factors in this disaster. Yet, I have sensed a general consensus here the last two days that raising that issue somehow diminishes the victims of this tragedy. I merely wish to point out that it does no such thing. I don’t see this as God “punishing” anyone for anything (I don’t believe God works that way) but I do see the natural consequences of the IFB’s many shortcomings.

        4. See semp, etc below as well. We are all aware of disregard for safety in our pasts. We do not know of nor have evidence of it in this case, and it’s inappropriate to be speculating about in the wake of a tragedy, especially without accurate information.

        5. It is natural for a wide range of thoughts to flash through our minds after a disaster like this. It is part of the grieving process. But I think it is wise not to say everything I think…better to wait, and let things settle.

          We all know (and often speak) of the wide range of problems within the IFB. But when tragedy strikes, is it really SO important to rehearse faults right at that moment? Cannot we, instead, give grace?

          The investigation will reveal the truth, and then the families can go through the pain all over again, regardless of what the truth is. I would rather not add to their pain, even if I WERE to happen to be “correct” with my words.

          It is important to find the truth, and to stick to it. In other words, it is important to be “right” as God defines it. But it is also important to be kind and loving. If I am “right” without being kind and loving, I am useless to everyone.

      2. Until it is determined what actually caused the crash, I do not wish to speculate. There is an investigation underway, so we should know soon. I am concerned over the safety of these buses too, but will wait to comment further.

        Having been given a position he might not have earned is not really relevant in this because anyone in his seat would have died.

        Just because guilt has been assigned to former members for tragedies in their lives does not mean I should repeat that horrible error. We should show the love of Christ in moments like this.

      3. We do not know the cause of the crash. We should be in grief with these people.

        There is a time to mourn, and that time is now. I doubt any of us here is trained to investigate this; therefore, we should refrain from speculation.

        For now, let us try to reach out and comfort these folks. We need to love them no matter how much we disagree with them.

    3. You’re statement is inappropriate. This is why I am not a Christian.

      1. I would hope you had better reasoning for being an atheist than an insensitive blog comment.

  21. We’ll have future opportunities to disagree with Phelps and company over things they say and do.

    Now, it is time to mourn the dead and pray for the right help to come along to the wounded.

    I visited Colonial Hills many years ago. I can see places in the building even now. It’s real to me and not just another topic of discussion. No church should have to suffer such a tragedy.

  22. Heard about this yesterday; such stories are always a big shock.

    Chuck Phelps as a person lost his son, his daughter-in-law, and a unborn grandchild. As a pastor, he lost his youth leader.

    Also feel for the family of the other lady that was killed.

    May God bring His unique comfort to those involved.

  23. This is indeed a tragedy. My heart breaks for those who have suffered losses. May they find comfort in the arms of the Almighty.
    God the Father,
    Have mercy on your servants.

    God the Son,
    Have mercy on your servants.

    God the Holy Spirit,
    Have mercy on your servants.

    Holy Trinity, one God,
    Have mercy on your servant.

    From all evil, from all sin, from all tribulation,
    Good Lord, deliver them.

    By your holy Incarnation, by your Cross and Passion, by your precious Death and Burial,
    Good Lord, deliver them.

    By your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the Coming of the Holy Spirit,
    Good Lord, deliver them.

    We sinners beseech you to hear us, Lord Christ: That it may please you to deliver the souls of your servants from the power of evil, and from eternal death,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please you mercifully to pardon all their sins.
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please You to grant them a place of refreshment and everlasting blessedness,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

    Jesus, Lamb of God:
    Have mercy on them.

    Jesus, bearer of our sins:
    Have mercy on them.

    Jesus, redeemer of the world:
    Give them your peace.

    Lord, have mercy.

    Christ, have mercy.

    Lord, have mercy.

  24. Heartbreaking.
    My church also had a tragedy this past week – an elderly couple, long time members of the church, were murdered. Their grandson, who went to our Sunday School as a child, is one of the suspects.
    You hurt with the hurting, no matter the disagreements you might have with them.

    1. Oh, Beth, how shocking! I have no words of my own.

      All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

    2. Oh, that is horrible, Beth. Praying for their family and your church…and you.

  25. I had read about this when it first came out but I didnt know about the Phelps connection….nevertheless it is a horrible tragedy no matter who they are and I cant help but tear up a bit….also please please please pray for all involved in rescue and recovery… EMS…Fire….Law Enforcement….Dispatchers….trust me a MCI-Multiple Casualty Incident is hard on all involved and they will probably go through counselling.

  26. unfortunately many are following their darker angels and using this as a cheap way to take a pot shot at the “librals.”
    my facebook is exploding today with angry fundies saying “I am so upset that the liberal media is reporting that 3 people died in the car crash! That uborn baby was as much of a person as anyone else! I can’t believe this! Obama abortion liberals blah blah blah!!”

    1. Zounds, that sentiment drives me bonkers! I’ve already heard it in person from my IFB parents (whose pastor is BFFs with Phelps the elder).

      I don’t even know how to respond without sounding ascerbic.

      1. I responded to one of the posts referenced above on Facebook the other day. I said, “I don’t think anyone purposely reported this as 3 people dead instead of 4 in order to send some pro-abortion message. But maybe I’m just too quick to assume positive intent :)”
        Nobody responded . . .

  27. I have read all the comments of this tragedy. Most are full of compassion, some are not— being full of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Believers and unbelievers alike need to take heed to what you say—God is listening, nothin escapes Him.
    1) I don’t agree of Pastor Phelps way of handling things in the past– I am postitive if he’d have a chance to change the decisions he made, I’m sure he would.
    2) It is God who is the judge— for whatever reason this tradgedy happened, it is not our place to judge the Phelps family.
    3) God expects His children to forgive as Christ forgives. “Forgive us our transgressions as we forgive those who transgress against us.”
    4) if you don’t forgive but strike out against the Phelps family, it is promised in the parable of the unforgiving servant, in Matthew 12: 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
    4) Remember King David? Would you forgive his past after he committed adultery with Bathseba and then had Urriah killed?
    5) death and life are in the power of your tongue, so before you open that big trap and spew out the contents of your bitter unforgiving heart, you remember, God runs this world and He has a way to deliver you to the “torments” of life— have compassion and pray for this pain in lives of those who lost loved ones!

    1. I agree with most of what you wrote, though definitely not with your tone or wording. However, I wonder if you post the same admonition to fundamentalists when they opine, sometimes almost gleefully, when tragedy strikes someone they don’t like (like Rick Warren, perhaps).

  28. Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles:

    Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
    Proverbs 24: 17-18

  29. Darrell wrote on 9.6.2011 “Unfortunately, it appears that justice for Chuck Phelps and others at Trinity Baptist may be delayed yet a little while longer.”

    Does this tragedy support your theology of “justice for Chuck Phelps” or does it mitigate against it… or do the two have nothing to do with each other?

    Just asking.

    1. I would think that reading my post would make it clear that I do not think that this was some kind of Divine retribution.

      Once you start down that road then you put yourself in the place of having to give the reasons for every tragedy. I don’t want that responsibility.

      I have no patience for those who want to rejoice at somebody else’s pain. We can be better than that.

  30. Thanks for the clarification.

    Help me understand what “Justice” for Chuck would entail (and from whom) and on what basis would this justice be served?

    Also, what should happen to the “others” at Trinity Baptist?

    1. I don’t think this is the appropriate place to be having this conversation. If you’d like to start a thread on the forums I’ll be happy to engage it there.

    2. Since Darrell (in spite of the “Dar’El” alternate spelling of his name) is not, nor has ever claimed to be, God, I don’t think that he can answer your questions. For now, let us recognize that the deaths of these four people have created much pain and dismay for many, pray for comfort, and hug those close to us just a little closer.

  31. Appreciate Darrell’s attitude on this. Horrible tragedy that is affecting many people I know and love.

    Prayers and tears for the family and friends.

  32. As someone who used to run the transportation ministry at my former church, this story hit a little close to home. I maintained and drove buses and a van for several years and this was the nightmare scenario I never wanted to encounter: a serious or fatal accident. Being in the aviation business, I was very fussy about maintenance. There were times that I had to say, ” No, the bus can’t go due to a mechanical issue”. “No, we can’t load it that heavily.” “No, you can’t take flammable gas with you.” “No, you can’t block the emergency exits”. You won’t win any popularity contest if you have to delay or cancel a trip or otherwise inconvenience a group for safety considerations, but what happened in Indy underscores the serious nature of transportation. These are people’s kids and safety had to come first at all times.

    And sometimes despite all best efforts, something happens that is completely out of your control. Church buses are often older vehicles with a lot of run time on them. Some mechanical issues can be extremely difficult if not impossible to spot and there are no mandated overhaul times. Any church running one or more buses takes on a tremendous responsibility and I pray that all of them out there take it seriously. I enjoyed the bus ministry but now that it’s behind me, I can say that it’s like a constant burden that has been lifted. A lot of churches use rentals these days due to the cost and liability of owning a vehicle and the difficulty of keeping a qualified driver pool..

    I had just driven through the area the day before the accident with my family. The investigation should be able to reconstruct what went wrong and hopefully the results will provide insights to help make church bus operations safer. Thoughts and prayers for the family and loved ones involved.

    Jim K.

  33. As a resident of Indianapolis, and having a friend who has been MERCILESSLY persecuted by this church, its leadership and members, I have very mixed feelings about this whole situation. First, yes as a human being I feel bad when someone’s life is cut short. BUT – when that person has spent his life dedicated to the destruction of my way of life so that it can be supplanted by his own idea of how I should live my life, when that person has ridiculed, derided, and gone out of their way to publicly humiliate someone I know, then I feel differently. We ALL know about Chuck Phelps, what many of you here may not know is that his son was JUST as cruel, conniving, and despicable as his father. So yes, I am glad his life was cut short before he could fully blossom into the turd-flower that his father is. As for the other two women killed in the crash, I don’t know them at all. Secondly – Chuck Phelps deserves this. Why is it that these fundys all claim to be happy that we are going to heaven and then praise the lord when someone the life of someone they care about was inexplicably spared? There is a certain disconnect there that I never got. Chuck Phelps is a hypocrite at best and a charlatan at worst. You all can hate on me as much as you want, but this is how I feel and I will stick by it.

    1. Speaking for myself…I’m not hating on you at all. I’m not going to criticize your feelings.

      All I am asking is, Is it worth it? I said more, farther up on the thread. God takes no pleasure even in the death of the wicked. I don’t know these people, so I’m not going to try to say what kind of peole they are. But if God takes no pleasure… If Jesus wept over a city that he knew to be doomed…

      I’ve heard these IFB people chortling over the death of Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston, talking about how it was a very good day. And I was sickened. Now that some of theirs have died, do I need to give the same back to them?

      When does it end?

      1. I truly wish we could not secretly take pleasure in the death of someone that we revile, but we do it every day…sad indeed.

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