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Liberty community remembers Hannah Williams

November 30, 2011 : By Olivia Witherite & Bethany Pico/Liberty University News Service

Photo courtesy of the Williams family

Liberty University students and faculty gathered on Tuesday evening at Pate Chapel at Thomas Road Baptist Church to remember Hannah Williams, a freshman who was killed Nov. 17 in an accident on a train trestle in Amherst County.

Williams’ gift of encouragement and spontaneity were highlighted by her friends, who shared Scripture and stories of their friendship. Worship music was played and a commemorative video featuring pictures of Williams was shown.

Hannah Williams’ mother, Terri Williams, shared memories of her daughter, including the opportunity to help her begin a relationship with the Lord. She also showed appreciation to Liberty’s student body for its support and befriending of her daughter.

“Thank you for the little education she got here at Liberty. She loved it,” she said. “I can find comfort because I know where she is -- absent from the body and present with the Lord. But you know, there’s a day when I will see her again.”

Pastor Keith Anderson, Liberty’s Dean of Students, affirmed her statement, saying “the blessing that Hannah received (in Heaven) should bring comfort.”

Hannah Williams' funeral was held on Nov. 22 in her hometown of Sanford, N.C. Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. attended the service, along with his wife, Becki; Liberty’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Mark Hine; campus pastor Dane Emerick; and several Liberty students.

Students have shown their support for the Williams family, by holding a special prayer time during convocation the day after the accident and taking up a special offering in Monday’s convocation to help underwrite the remaining funeral expenses and to establish a scholarship fund in her memory. They collected more than $12,000.

On Monday, campus pastor Johnnie Moore asked students to continue to support the families and friends affected by the tragedy through prayer.

“The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth that ‘when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.’ Liberty is a Christian community that takes very personally the needs of those within, and connected to our community,” Moore said. “This is the least we can do to help Hannah’s family, and it’s also a way to honor a young lady who had a heart to serve others. Just a few weeks ago Hannah spent her weekend helping flood victims in New York.”

He said receiving donations like this is not unusual at Liberty.

“Liberty has done this sort of thing from our inception. Most of the time it is done quietly, behind the scenes,” Moore said.

Junior Alex Sawyer donated in Hannah’s memory.

“I gave to the Hannah Williams fund because I can’t imagine what her family is going through,” Sawyer said. “I hope that our offering can cover any bills they have to pay so that they can focus on spending time with family and not having to be stressed because of money.”

Moore also asked for continued prayers for freshman Julianne Ashbaugh, 18, who was injured in the accident and is still hospitalized, but is showing progress in her recovery.