Memorial Held for Slain Kansas Teen

( [email protected] ) Jun 14, 2007 07:56 AM EDT

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) - The best way for Kelsey Smith's friends to honor the slain teen is for them to dedicate themselves to changing themselves and a violent society, ministers at her memorial service said Tuesday.

The 18-year-old, whose abduction from a store parking lot was captured by surveillance cameras, was a victim of a culture filled with violence and sexual exploitation, said the Rev. Jeff Kirby, an associate pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

"You can say, 'It doesn't affect me,'" said Kirby, who challenged young people in the congregation to boycott violent and overly sexual films, music and television programming. "Maybe it doesn't affect you. Maybe it affects the psycho neighbor down the street."

Almost 1,000 people, many of them wearing blue — Smith's favorite color — attended Tuesday afternoon's memorial service. She had been buried that morning in a private ceremony.

Kirby challenged friends of Smith, who had planned to attend Kansas State University and become a veterinarian, to honor her memory by developing their own faith and pursuing careers that would benefit others.

Smith was abducted from a Target store in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park on June 2, and her body was found near a lake about 20 miles away in Missouri. Hundreds of volunteers, many of whom had never met her, distributed fliers and searched for her after cameras recorded her being forced into her car.

Police have arrested 26-year-old Edwin R. Hall, acting on tips generated by the surveillance footage. He was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.

The reasons for Smith's killing may never be fully understood in this life, said the Rev. Mark Seversen, the teen's pastor at Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village.

Seversen cited a Bible passage in which St. Paul likens human understanding of eternal matters to a dim reflection in a clouded mirror.

"We can only understand in part," Seversen said. "This is not a perfect world. It's a flawed place."

Copies of the New Testament, with blue cards carrying some of Smith's favorite Bible verses tucked into them, were available after the service on tables that also bore bowls of Skittles, Smith's favorite candy.

"She would eat them two at a time, and they had to be the same color," said her mother, Missey Smith.

Smith's family members elicited laughter and tears with their remembrances of a headstrong but loving young woman who was not afraid of new experiences.

"Kelsey's life was not wasted," said her father, Greg Smith. "She filled 18 years with more adventure and life than anyone I know."

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