By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor
When John Donne, the 17th-century British poet, admonished his readers: “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” it was common for a parish church to ring its bells to announce the death of a parishioner.
His poem, Meditation XVII, tells readers, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. … Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”
The bells of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Louisville tolled Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29, during the second annual Memorial for Victims of Homicide. The tolling marked the deaths of 54 people who have been murdered in Louisville since the start of 2011. Fifty-one of those were killed in 2011, and three people have been murdered so far this year.
Bishop Terry A. White of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky invoked the words of Donne as he told about 100 people gathered to remember those victims, “We are all connected to one another; the pain of one affects us all.”
The interfaith service drew a crowd of Catholics from St. William and St. Agnes Catholic churches, some of whom walked from St. William to the site of the celebration at Christ Church Cathedral, 421 S. Second Street.
The celebration also included representatives of the Episcopal Church, Plymouth Renewal Center, Highland Baptist Church, the Jewish congregation Adath Jeshurun and Interfaith Paths to Peace.
Bishop White said in an interview before the service that the idea for the service started in Kansas City, where he served before coming to Louisville about two years ago. He said the memorial to remember murder victims is important to “raise awareness and keep them in our prayers.”
Highland Baptist Church has, for years, set small crosses in the front lawn of the church — at Cherokee and Grinstead Drive in the Highlands — to represent murder victims in Louisville. St. William Church — located at 13th and Oak streets in West Louisville — adopted that practice this year. And parishioners carried the crosses — with victims’ names written on them in black marker — to the service.
Representing families of murder victims, Terri Tharpe spoke to the congregation about losing her son, who was set to begin classes at the University of Kentucky when he was murdered in August of 2008.
“He was only 19, and he didn’t get to live his life,” she told the crowd. “It’s something I live with every day, every night.”
Tharpe said she tries to help other families who have lost someone to murder by talking and listening to them. But she acknowledged, “It’s a pain that’s always there.”
Lt. Barry Wilkerson, commander of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s homicide unit, read from Scripture during the service. And Mitzi Friedlander read the names of the murder victims.
Other speakers included Terry Taylor of Interfaith Paths to Peace; Very Rev. Mark Bourlakas, dean of Christ Church Cathedral; Cantor David Lipp of Adath Jeshurun and peace activist Christopher 2X.