On the very night of the shooting at a Nickel Mines school five years ago — in which five Amish girls were killed and five were injured — representatives of the Amish community met with the parents of the killer, Charles Carl Roberts IV, to extend forgiveness. Many people felt the forgiveness came too soon.
In a recent report by Sheldon C. Good in Mennonite Weekly Report, Sociologist Donald B. Kraybill of Elizabethtown College commented on the community’s rapid decision to forgive. “At a deeper level, it was more about compassion, grace and empathy than forgiveness,” he said.
One Amish man told Kraybill, “This is just standard Christian forgiveness; it’s what Christians do every day.”
Reporter Tom Knapp (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote about a conference held September 22, 2011, to commemorate the mass killings, which occurred on October 2, 2006. In his article for Lancaster Online, he wrote about a note written by Christ King, the father of one of the slain girls. ” . . . King’s note wasn’t about recriminations or anguish. It was a note of simple gratitude,” Knapp reported.
King and the entire Nickel Mines community extended their forgiveness to Roberts for his actions. It was a simple act of grace that caught the attention of the world, Knapp wrote.
Mediators and counselors can only dream of reaching an outcome like the one at Nickel Mines.