Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Orlando

West Parish Church in Andover with flag and vigil sign.
Tonight, there was an Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Orlando at West Parish Church in Andover, in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and against Islamophobia as well as homophobia and transphobia...

Originally, West Parish and South Church were planning a joint vigil for the victims of the tragic shooting in Orlando. Several of us in Welcoming Faiths were trying to figure out if we could quickly plan an interfaith prayer vigil for Orlando. When we learned about the vigil being planned at West Parish, we contacted the Rev. Katrina Wuensch, and (along with Rev. Dana Allen Walsh and Rev. Alex Shea Will of South Church) she thought it was a great idea to have an interfaith vigil. Generously, they worked with Welcoming Faiths to invite clergy and leaders from other traditions in town.

Rev. Wuensch is new to town, and she did an amazing job of putting this all together! She and West Parish were amazing hosts.

It was a lovely service. Rev. Wuensch gave the welcome, and Rev. Dana Allen Walsh led the gathering prayer.

There were readings from three traditions: Rabbi Robert Goldstein of Temple Emanuel shared words from the Jewish tradition.

Mary Lahaj, Chaplain of the Islamic Center of Boston, shared words from the Islamic tradition.

Renee Manning (seminarian and member of South Chuch) shared words from the Christian tradition.

We shared the names of the 50 victims of the shooting (49 innocents, plus the shooter himself). The readers of the names were Aldebran Longabaugh-Burg (of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College, as well as a Board member of Welcoming Faiths); Rev. Will Green of Ballard Vale United Church, and myself (of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover).

More important are those names of the victims, which are shown below. Learn more about the beautiful people that we lost at this interactive site.




There was a wonderful turnout for the vigil; the sanctuary was full, and those attending came from many different area congregations, or from no congregation at all.

To the right you can see the list of participants and their organizations as they appeared on the back of the program. (Click on the picture if you wish to see it in a bigger size.)

The Andover Townsman made a live video; it is brief, but it gives some sense of the turnout. You can view that video at this link.

It was so good to be together. There is much healing that needs to happen, and much work that needs to be done. More on that in a later post.

Blessings and love to all the victims and their families and friends. May we become a nation of peace.

Photo: Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Orlando at West Parish Church of Andover. (Courtesy of West Parish.)
The beautiful human beings lost in the tragic Orlando shooting.

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