By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
A crowd of around 40 people gathered in the First United Methodist Church on Friday morning to pray for the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting that claimed the lives of 26 children and adults two weeks ago.
Even though nearly 1,000 miles separate those praying in Clinton from the grieving in Connecticut, the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School continues to touch people in the Gateway area and across the country.
“The children of the world need us to stand up and speak up for them. As well as to nurture and care for them,” Pastor Bobb Barrick said. “Even though the task seems overwhelming, we can make a difference right where we are.”
Attendees prayed for the 20 first-grade students and six adults who were killed when a gunman shot his way into the school in Newtown, Conn. The shooter killed his mother before the shooting and ultimately killed himself.
Pastor Dennis Glew also shared a bible verse with the somber crowd following a Christmas prayer for the victims and their families. Shirley Darsidan read a speech prepared by Joe Wendel, who could not attend the service.
“Although words will never be able to condole or compensate for the loss, we want the families to know they are not alone. We have all been touched by this tragedy. Now more than ever we need love and humanity,” Wendel’s speech read. “Perhaps our eyes must be washed by our tears to see our world in a better view.”
Darsidan then shared her own words. She stressed the importance of making sure children are the top priority.
“Children should be way more important than money, power, politics, guns, violence, anything,” Darsidan said. “We want to help and give them the best opportunities in life.”
A collection was taken during the prayer service that will pay for mittens and hats to be given to elementary school children in Clinton.
Theresa Boisen attended the service with her family.
She found herself sobbing as the names of the victims were read aloud followed by the haunting sound of a ringing bell.
“It just touched us,” she said. “You thank your lucky stars that you have what you have.
“You just think about the children and make sure they’re healthy and loved.”