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Even after filling First Free Methodist Church to capacity, there were enough people seeking solace and a place to grieve that they filled the nearby Fine Center and spilled out to Seattle Pacific University’s Tiffany Loop.

They hugged, held hands and cried, many struggling to understand the violence that had erupted on campus a few hours earlier.

“The truth is: All is not OK,” Bob Zurinsky, assistant director of university missions, told the standing-room-only crowd in the church on the campus of the small evangelical college. “And so today, we mourn.”

During the service they raised their voices in song to the lyrics of a hymn: “You are the everlasting God … You comfort us in need.”

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Daniel Martin, president of SPU, told those gathered in the church: “SPU is a pretty special community. A community that’s grounded in Jesus Christ. If there was ever a time to rely on that faith, that sustenance and support, it is now.”

Several speakers spoke of the need for the campus community to grieve.

“Comfort cannot bypass lament — the cry of the heart,” said Frank Spina, a professor in SPU’s department of theology.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people sat on the ground along the tree-lined walkway known as Tiffany Loop.

The students gathered and sat in circles. At one point, the loop was silent as they held hands and prayed. Two police officers watched from nearby.

Some cried as they bowed their heads and prayed.

One young man talked to the dozen students sitting in his circle. He asked how they were feeling. “Are you OK?” he asked. “Did you call your folks?”

A prayer service is scheduled for Friday at noon at the First Free Methodist Church alongside campus. Classes have been canceled.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or

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