Five days following the tragic deaths of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., members of the Cazenovia community gathered together to grieve those lost, and show support to those affected. A walking prayer vigil was held at 4 p.m. on Dec. 19 within the village of Cazenovia. The procession, which lasted a half-hour, was attended by about 90 people of all ages and faiths.
The large group of area residents congregated at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and after short comments from Interim Rector Rev. Barb Schmitz and George Van Arnam, set off to visit the Cazenovia United Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia.
“The clergy of Cazenovia wanted to provide a way for the community to walk in solidarity with the people of Newtown in their grief and sorrow,” Schmitz said. “By our prayers, and through our support and love, may they find a measure of healing and hope.”
The mood was of quiet reflection, as few words were spoken between participants during the walks to the local churches. Tears could be found in a number of residents’ eyes as the group honored the young children and elementary school staff who perished on Friday, Dec. 14 at the hand of a 20-year-old gunman.
Schmitz credited Rev. Robin Blair, of the United Methodist Church, for the vigil’s inception, and a number of members of the local clergy were also on hand during the event, including Ian Worthington, of Eastern Hills Bible Church and Rev. Steve Thomas, of the Presbyterian Church.
“[Schmitz],Blair, Worthington and Van Arnam are really the ones who conceived the idea of the walking prayer vigil and coordinated it with the community,” Thomas said. “They were the energy behind this.”
At each church, prayers were read and recited by the group. During the final stop at the Presbyterian church, the group joined together in singing “Let There be Peace on Earth.”
As the hymn concluded, vigil participants embraced and departed, and the evening sun set over Cazenovia. The memory of the 26 who were slain will live on in the hearts and thoughts of citizens across the country, as the nation looks to avoid facing a similar tragedy.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.