KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) ---It's a time of joy and healing for members of the Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church. They're celebrating 60 years as a congregation. It's been more than six months after hate and killing violated their sanctuary.
"We've come a long way from July to be able to do this", says Ted Jones, TUUC Congregation President.
Last July 27Th, police say Jim Adkisson opened fire during a children's play, killing 61-year-old Linda Kraeger and 60-year-old Greg McKendry.
Jeff Kovac remembers the terror of that day, "My wife was about five feet from the shooter so it was a scary time."
Sunday's special services celebrates more than the church's 60Th anniversary. Members are dedicating the church library to Kraeger. Her husband, Dwayne Kraeger, placed a book she'd written in his wife's library.
Members are also commemorating McKendry. They've named the church fellowship hall in his honor.
Reverend William Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Society, says it's critical the church remember those who lost lives in the deadly shootings. "To stand on the side of love always rather than the side of division", says Reverend Sinkford.
The church's actual 60Th anniversary is Monday, the same day the Knoxville News Sentinel reports Adkisson is expected to plead guilty to six counts of attempted murder.
The paper says the plea deal will send Adkisson to life in prison without parole.
"You never know until it actually happens and I think once it happens we can move on from there", says Jones.
"At least I think justice is done because they don't have to go through trial, the agony of reliving the incident", says Kovac.
Church members say they plan on gathering Monday night regardless of whether Adkisson pleads guilty.