Candles were lit in Sullivan with hopes they’d shine all the way to Connecticut Sunday evening.
About 200 people gathered by the Sullivan County Courthouse at 7 p.m., surrounded by the bright lights of Christmas strung throughout the pines. A vigil in honor of the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14 featured poems, songs and prayer as participants lit candles symbolic of light shared.
Mayor Clint Lamb credited the community and his wife, Jessie, for organizing the vigil. With the constant decay of modern society in play, he said it’s important that small communities such as Sullivan be a “bright, shining example” for others to see.
“I felt it was important, just with my own family,” he said of the ceremony.
Before the service, Lamb said Christians are called in the Bible to be their brothers’ keepers, and whether it’s the media, guns or violent video games at fault, people need to be aware of the problems faced by those around them. Without placing judgment on those in need, people need to be aware that mental health issues exist and require care, he said.
Ceremonies like community vigils help foster a true sense of citizenship, he added.
“Events like this is what being a mayor is all about,” he remarked.
The Rev. Dale White offered a prayer in which he pointed out the number of unanswered questions which arise from situations such as the massacre inside the Connecticut elementary school, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
“And, Lord, the questions come when we as a nation have been through what we’ve been through,” he said, later attributing these problems to the bad choices made by humans.
Pastor Steve Hollis said that he and his family share the unimaginable pain felt by the Newtown community as it moves through the holiday season with so many dead.
“We really can’t put into words, I’m sure,” he said of the grief.
Church bells tolled 26 times, one for each of the victims, as participants spread the light of candles across the crowd and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” was sung.
“Each of us has a light to shine,” Hollis said, explaining the light of faith can reach across the nation in times of hurt.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.