Collingswood Mourns Sandy Hook Victims in Wednesday Vigil
A group of about 30 mourners stood in the winter night with candles, led in prayer by a convocation of community religious leaders.
The grief of families from Newtown, CT—site of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week—continues to reverberate throughout the nation.
But, as the saying goes, it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
In Collingswood, a group of residents gathered together Wednesday evening outside the old Zane School on Haddon Avenue to unite in a silent vigil for those lost in the violence.
The group carried votives, sung hymns like "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and joined hands for a group prayer.
Their mood was appropriately solemn; efforts to keep things quiet were disrupted somewhat by evening traffic and loud chatter from a handful of restaurant patrons across the street.
"A lot of our kids, and of course parents, were quite upset about this tragedy; upset about the violence in our country," she said.
"We wanted to stand for peace."
Killebrew was joined by other Collingswood clergy, including Sam Mountain of First United Methodist, Andy Gordon of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church and Mark Finn of the Collingswood Church of Christ.
Killebrew said that in times of tragedy, everyone seeks to ascribe a motivation to senseless acts; to explain away the irrational. Sometimes, unfortunately, their explanations aren't always themselves logical, she said—like the idea that the shooting was some form of punishment for "God being kicked out of schools.
"You can't kick God out of anywhere," Killebrew said. "We are comforted by the presence of our belief in Christ. If we need the coming of Christ at any time, it's now.
"Most days life is good," she said. "Those who are working to bring peace and eliminate violence, we need to stand with them."
Gordon echoed her remarks in his own, citing the advent study of John A. Stroman, Singing Mary's Song, in trying to answer the question most of the faithful ask: Where is God in moments of tragedy?
"The stories will begin to be told—of compassion and care for the people brought low by grief and anguish," Gordon said. "That's where we will find God—in the love and outreach of all who act to bring comfort and companionship to those who are hurting."
Jennifer and Jason Knudson, three-year residents of Collingswood who are Midwestern transplants, were in attendance with their baby daughter, Vienna.
The young couple said that since the birth of their child, news like that out of Sandy Hook "hit[s] especially close to home."
"I think it's pretty special that all the churches got together," Jason Knudson said.
"It's good to pray together as a group of people," Jennifer Knudson said.
"This is why Collingswood is great," said Commissioner Joan Leonard, also in attendance. "Pastor Kate will call upon people to stand together in good times and bad.
"We have each other and that's all we can hope for," Leonard said.