Unattended Death on Campus - Montreat College

Thursday, March 31, 2:30 p.m.: Graham Chapel will be reopening tomorrow, Friday, 4/1. As you enter Gaither Hall, please note that you may see the doors to the chapel open, and the carpet has been removed.

While we know it may be difficult for some to view or enter the chapel, we also recognize that reopening the space is an important step in helping our community heal and move forward. If you need to speak with someone, please contact Dean of Spiritual Formation, Rachel Toone, and/or Director of Counseling Services, Wesley Davis, at 828.419.2338.

As we move toward resuming chapel services in Graham, below is the schedule of events for next week:

  • Monday (4/4) 10 a.m. – Prayer meeting led by Dr. Alex Sosler in Chapel of the Prodigal
  • Tuesday (4/5) 7:30-8:30 p.m. – Prayer and worship in Graham Chapel
  • Wednesday (4/6) 10 a.m. – Chapel led by Kobe Campbell (EMDR Trained Trauma Therapist) in Graham Chapel
  • Wednesday (4/6) 11 a.m.-12 p.m. – Faculty & Staff Q&A with Kobe Campbell in President’s Dining Room

Friday, March 25, 4:00 p.m.: Gaither Hall will remain closed on Monday, March 28. Any classes or lessons that would normally be held in Gaither Hall will be held in a different location. Faculty members will notify students via email of any adjustments being made including where Gaither Hall classes will be held. All other classes will continue as scheduled. Employees may use keys to enter the building if they need to pick up any work or personal items; however, the building should remain locked and employees who office in Gaither Hall should work with their direct supervisor regarding work expectations.

Beginning on Tuesday, March 29, Gaither Hall will reopen and classes held in the building will return to their normal schedule. Additionally, employees who office in Gaither Hall should plan to return to their normal workspaces. Graham Chapel will remain locked until further notice.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time.

Friday, March 25, 2:00 p.m.: On Monday, March 28, 2022, we will hold a campus forum in Anderson Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. This forum will be a time for students and college employees to gather together in community, hear official, verified information concerning the events surrounding 3/23, and be able to ask questions via text Q&A to a campus leadership panel. This panel will include President Paul Maurer, Daniel Bennet, Rev. Rachel Toone, and Wesley Davis.

The forum will not be livestreamed or recorded. Students and employees are encouraged to attend in person; however, because the details surrounding the event on Wednesday will be discussed openly, we understand if some individuals choose not to attend. Attendance is not mandatory.

If students or employees have questions they would like addressed during this forum, we ask that all questions be texted to 828-419-0230. Questions can be submitted in advance starting today and also during Monday’s forum.

Thursday, March 24, 2:00 p.m.: To best care for and support our campus community during this difficult time, Montreat College will be be postponing its Discovery Day on Friday, March 25 to Friday, April 8. Everyone registered for this day will be contacted by a representative of the Office of Admissions with additional details about the new date. You can contact Admissions via email at admissions@montreat.edu or by phone at 828-669-8012 with any questions you may have.

Thursday, March 24, 10:30 a.m.: All students, staff, and community members are welcome to attend a community prayer gathering in the Chapel of the Prodigal starting at 2 p.m today (3/24). Montreat College’s Dean of Spiritual Formation, Rachel Toone, and Mrs. Joellen Maurer will lead this time as we come together to support one another. Thank you to all who have joined us in prayer, either on-campus or from afar, as we navigate these difficult days. Please continue to pray for our community and the family and friends who feel this loss the deepest.

Thursday, March 24, 10:15 a.m.: Message from Paul Maurer and Rachel Toone:

Our beloved Montreat College community,

Yesterday we experienced a profound tragedy. The death of an individual on our campus deeply affects us all. And while none of us processes or grieves the same way, we need to take time to process and grieve. Please don’t bypass this. Please.

We invite you to pray for the family and friends who now grieve the loss of someone they loved. We know some of the family, and we can only imagine that it is a brutal time for them.

It is important for all of us to be reminded that death is heartbreaking, and that we don’t have easy answers to tragedies like this.

We also need to remember that death does not have the final word. Hope remains. And even as we experience shock and mourning together, we are also called to move forward with the hope and expectation that a good King sits on the throne and still reigns. We believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. That he redeems heartbroken communities and darkened spaces. And even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to be afraid. Because he is with us, even in the darkness of life on this side of heaven.

In this season of Lent, we look toward the resurrection. Yet before Easter Sunday, we walk through Good Friday. On the cross we see that in the most violent, awful moments the love of God is poured out. God himself enters into the depths of trauma and tragedy. He descends into Hell. And on Sunday morning He defeats death with His own resurrection. And one day, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, because He will make all things new. This is at the heart of Christian faith.

We know some of you have expressed concern over the safety of campus. Police have affirmed there is no persistent threat that extends from what happened yesterday. When the crisis occurred, Montreat College employees and local police responded exactly as they needed to.

One of the questions of our time is how we will respond to dangerous situations when they occur. At Montreat College, campus buildings are secure, and we are located in an area with very low rates of crime and violence. Yet, we know we are not immune from the tragedies of life. And we choose to face the coming days with both sorrow and courage.

Know that you are in our prayers. Please keep us – and our Montreat community – in yours.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

With love,

Dr. Paul J. Maurer Rev. Rachel Toone

President Dean of Spiritual Formation

Wednesday, March 23, 9:22 p.m.: Gaither Hall will be locked tomorrow, Thursday, March 24. Any classes or lessons that would normally be held in Gaither Hall are canceled tomorrow.

Employees may use keys to enter the building if they need to pick up any work or personal items; however, the building should remain locked and employees who office in Gaither Hall should work with their direct supervisor regarding work expectations. The chapel will not be accessible until further notice. All other classes will continue as scheduled.

We ask that you respect the privacy of those most impacted by this tragedy and lift the family of the deceased in prayer. Days like today are painful and heartbreaking, and we encourage everyone to practice good self-care and support each other well. We will all process the events of today differently, but we will do that together as the Montreat College community. If you need to speak with someone, please contact Rachel Toone and/or Wesley Davis.

These are tragic days. And we trust in a God who is the resurrection and the life. We pray you know his peace in these dark moments.

Wednesday March 23, 7:14 p.m.: Police were contacted at approximately 4:30 p.m. today (3/23), and responded to a report of an unattended death on the Montreat College campus in Graham Chapel. Police have confirmed that the deceased is not a student or employee of the college. The incident does not appear to be suspicious in nature and no foul play is suspected. This situation presents no threat to the college community.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident. If you would like to speak with someone, please contact Rachel Toone and/or Wesley Davis via email. We will share additional information as it becomes available.