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US: Local residents gather to show support for Newtown families

Akram Khalid, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Central Pennsylvania USA, said the Muslims mourn “as Americans with our fellow citizens at the senseless violence and loss of life. We call for all Americans to unite for the sake of peace and love.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Penn Live | The Patriot-News
By Dan Miller | December 17, 2012

A handbell rang out once after the name and age of each of the 26 people killed in Newtown, Conn., was read aloud on the steps of the North Side Elementary School in Lower Paxton Township on Sunday.

About 60 people gathered in front of the school for a short candlelight vigil to pray for and remember victims of the shooting.

Except for an occasional passing car, the only other sound was that of a child crying. No cellphones were ringing, no one talked. A single, uniformed township police officer stood by keeping watch.

Many who came to the vigil on this unseasonably warm December night were parents who brought their children.

John and Maria Myers arrived with their daughters, Megan, 7, and Gaby, 5, students at North Side Elementary. The girls also attend the after-school program at CrossPoint Church, which organized the vigil.

“I thought it was important for them to see how much everybody cares about their safety,” Maria Myers said.

John Myers said the vigil was “a symbolic approach” for how members of the community here could show how much they care for those devastated by the massacre in Newtown.

He said his daughters will inevitably want to know about what happened in Newtown in the days and weeks ahead. Bringing them to the vigil tells his daughters that it’s OK to come to mom and dad with questions, he said.

Coming up with the answers won’t be easy. John and Maria Myers are like everyone else right now, struggling to come to grips with this madness and desperate to find ways to stop it from happening again.

“It needs to be discussed,” John Myers said. “Obviously, if there was a simple answer to it would have been solved already. It’s not that easy.”

For parents Jodi and John Glass of Susquehanna Township, the vigil was about making a direct connection, one community to another, through the power of prayer.

“Our hearts are just broken for these families that lost their children,” she said. “Having two children of our own, it really strikes home for us. We want them to know they are being prayed for and that there is a God who loves them and that will hold them in his arms.”

The Rev. David Biser, pastor of CrossPoint Church, presided over the event. Clergy from Colonial Park United Church of Christ and Devonshire Church also participated.

“I think it was terribly important for us to do this in the middle of the tragedy,” Biser said.

“It breaks every person’s heart, not only in our nation but as we hear around the world. I think it’s important for communities to come together and find some kind of healing and hope, and the best way to do that is through times of prayer and community gathering together, holding a candle and singing the promising songs of God that are important to all of us. It just renews and revitalizes our hope in each other and our hope in God.”

Earlier, leaders of area churches, synagogues and mosques focused on the tragedy during weekend services.

“We pray for healing for the victims’ families and for the family of the guy who committed this crime,” Trinity Church of God Elder Nathaniel Pierce said. “This affects everyone. Our cities, states and nation need healing too.”

Akram Khalid, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Central Pennsylvania USA, said the Muslims mourn “as Americans with our fellow citizens at the senseless violence and loss of life. We call for all Americans to unite for the sake of peace and love.”

The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, told Catholics to trust God.

“Our Lord is the Lord of life,” he said. “We must turn to him at times like this to seek his consolation and his peace. Thank God for the gift of our children. Pray that our world will grow in its respect for all human life.”

Rabbi Jordi Gendra-Molina of Temple Beth Shalom in Upper Allen Township said that members of his congregation prayed for the victims this weekend.

“One of our members has grandchildren who live near Newtown,” he said. “They live in the same county but didn’t go to that school. The rabbi there has to do a funeral for a child that was killed. It’s a horrible thing.” 

Mary Klaus contributed to this story.

Read original post here: US: Local residents gather to show support for Newtown families

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