I chose the title “12 Angry People” deliberately, because I remember the sadness and anger among the jurors of so much destruction in the lives of so many young people. Just a few days earlier, my pastor Bill Bess sent around a letter from a Presbyterian elder in Arizona, asking that, in the wake of the Tucson shootings, that we not let political bickering overcome the deeper issues of dealing with young men like Jared Loughner. I had some disagreement with that letter because I felt that it avoided the toughest issue in the Tucson case --- the identification and potentially involuntary hospitalization and treatment of individuals with severe mental illnesses such as, it is suspected, paranoid schizophrenia. However, in the cases of the young people connected with this trial, I (and I suspect others) kept thinking, was the Church of Jesus Christ in their lives? If not, why not? If so, is there more that could have been done?
This is a personal concern of mine, because it distresses me that the organized congregations of the PCUSA are responding to tough budget times by reducing giving to ministries such as the Presbyterian University Center at Florida State University. What more important mission of evangelism can there be than reaching out to the next generation?