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Waynesboro churches organize vigil to pray for Conn. shooting victims, families

December 16, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • People gather in the Waynesboro Square at a candlelight vigil for victims of mass shooting on Newtown, Conn.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — As about 150 people gathered Sunday night with candles on Center Square in Waynesboro, their thoughts and prayers were with a community more than 300 miles away.

The crowd assembled for a candlelight vigil to support the Newtown, Conn., residents affected by Friday’s school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members.

“It’s very true our hearts are still broken,” said the Rev. Linda Watkins, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Waynesboro.

Watkins spoke on behalf of the Waynesboro Area Fellowship of Churches, which organized the vigil.

Debate will continue about the political, ethical and moral issues, Watkins said.

“I keep coming back to the idea this is much more than that — this is a spiritual issue,” she said, saying she does not believe Jesus Christ taught us to live in a culture so focused on competition and individualism.

God called people to be united and work together for a common good, and as people serve God, they serve one another, Watkins said.

Attendee Brian Wynkoop said he, too, had unity on his mind.

“I think it’s good to come together as a community for the country, for Connecticut,” he said, also mentioning the recent Oregon mall shooting.

Wynkoop said he thought of his wife, Donna, who is a teacher, and their three elementary school-age children as he learned of the Connecticut tragedy. He said it has been hard to explain to the children what happened.

Wynkoop’s 9-year-old son, Nathan, joined him in lighting a candle at the vigil, which included recitation of The Lord’s Prayer and the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Christine Washington of Waynesboro said she learned about the 6 p.m. vigil from someone at her church. She said she wanted to demonstrate support for the families in Connecticut.

“You think about your own children and your grandchildren, and how painful it must be,” she said.

Waynesboro resident Cookie Beck was joined by three of her grandchildren at the vigil. She said she has tried to be as honest as possible with them about the shooting.

“I was a preschool teacher for years, and I can only imagine the pain those families are going through,” Beck said.

Beck reflected on the purpose of the vigil.

“It’s a small thing we can do to help,” she said.

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