Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church publishes memoir that explores Christian hope after mass shooting

Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church, Birmingham, AL
Posted May 17, 2023

Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, AL published a memoir titled The Light Shines in the Darkness: Choosing Hope after a Mass Shooting, which features a compilation of essays written in response to the June 16, 2022, mass shooting at the church in which three parishioners were killed. The book includes essays written by 42 individuals.

“We wanted to reflect the hope, love and compassion that Saint Stephen’s chose to embody in response to the violence inflicted upon our parish,” said The Rev. John Burruss, rector of Saint Stephen’s. “Forty-two parishioners courageously reflect on the tragedy and its effect on their lives and Christian faith.”

The book is edited by local author and church member Melinda Rainey Thompson, whose father was killed in the shooting. Photography is provided by professional photographer Van Chaplin, who is also a parishioner, as well as other congregants.

“When John asked me to lead a group of nonprofessional writers from our church to create a collection of reflections on this event, I was initially hesitant, however it has been a healing process,” said Thompson. “The way that Saint Stephen’s responded to the shooting and the tidal wave of grief in its wake is an inspirational story.”

The book is available for purchase at the online retailer and is priced at $12.99 for Kindle and $27.00 for paperback. Proceeds will go toward the church’s cost of constructing a garden labyrinth, which will be open to the community as a place of prayer, pilgrimage, reflection and peace. It is, also, a remembrance for the lives of Bart Rainey, Jane Pounds and Sharon Yeager and for those who survived the June 16 shooting.

For media inquiries, contact Emily Woloschuk at 205-903-9722 or


About Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church is in the heart of Cahaba Heights at the intersection of Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook, Alabama. Founded out of a trailer in 1973, focused on mission and outreach, Saint Stephen’s has grown to one of the largest and most vibrant congregations in the Diocese of Alabama. Today, Saint Stephen’s continues to be a beacon for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the building of community while focusing its sights continually on the needs of those outside her open doors and windows. While the church has a neighborhood feel with a well-established preschool, our parishioners come from 40 zip codes in the greater Birmingham area. The pillars of our community life are Formation, Pastoral Care, Outreach, and Care of Creation, all based in and pointing us toward our worship of Jesus Christ. To learn more, visit