Interfaith Gathering On Seventh Anniversary Of 12/14 Honors Those Who Died
Seven years to the day after 12/14, about 80 people gathered on the morning of Saturday, December 14, at Newtown Congregational Church for an Interfaith Gathering of Remembrance where they sought the support of others in addressing their grief.
Those assembled listened attentively during the hour-long event as several members of Newtown Interfaith Council spoke, honoring those who died.
Eman Beshtawi of Al Hedaya Islamic Center said, in part, "Oh God, we gather in your name. Make us light in these moments of darkness and difficulty."
Shaul Praver, who formerly was the rabbi at Congregation Adath Israel, said, "We come to the end of a seven-year cycle," adding that seven-year cycles are a component of several religions.
People have experienced a sense of pain due to the shooting incident, he said. Mr Praver said that he thought that he had come to terms with the incident, but memories of it then returned to him, bringing back a sense of grief.
When great change occurs, it will produce a sense of pain, but there is a meaning in that pain, he said.
"Newtown doesn't want to be remembered as the town of tragedy, but as the town that gave birth to a new and kinder world...a culture of peace, kindness, and love," he said.
"We must endure to do all the things that we do. Let us find the meaning. As long as we can find the meaning, we can endure the pain," he said.
Reverend Matthew Crebbin, pastor of Newtown Congregational Church, said of resolving the grief, "We are all on a journey together, and we are also journeying on different paths."
"We can all come and find support from one another and care for one another," he said.
"Seven years is a very significant number for people of many faiths," Rev Crebbin said, adding that the seven-year time span represents a cycle in life.
Reverend Lori Miller, pastor of Newtown United Methodist Church, read a sacred text during the ceremony.
Reverend Leo McIlrath told those present that the Book of Revelations addresses topics including darkness and fear, reading the twenty-first chapter of that text at the ceremony.
After each of the names of the 26 women and children who were killed at Sandy Hook School was read, Rev Crebbin struck a hanging bell, producing a dulcid, reverberating tone.
Reverend Jack Tanner, pastor of Newtown Christian Church, said of the grief that followed the shooting incident, "We seek peace in our own unique ways...We need the support, love, and encouragement of one another."
The Reverend Dr Jennifer Montgomery of Trinity Episcopal Church asked that the grief caused by the incident be resolved.
"God, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace," she said.
To further memorialize the 26 people killed seven years ago, those present were invited to walk to the church altar and light individual candles of remembrance. Clergy members of the religions participating in the event provided personal prayers for those who requested them.
A song was sung with the lyrics: "Carry your candle, run to the darkness; Seek out the hopeless, the tired and worn; Hold out your candle for all to see it; Take your candle and go light your world."
Rev Miller offered a blessing, after which those present sang "Shalom Chaverim," and then departed.