The Examiner

Vigil to End Gun Violence Scheduled Sunday in Area Church

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The tragedy of losing 20 children and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012, was the kind of seminal moment where many people remember where they were when they first heard the news.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, there were many calls for change but nearly three years later the epidemic of losing Americans to gun violence continues almost unabated.

On Sunday, a local church will be one of hundreds of venues throughout the United States this week that will be the site of remembering not only those lost in Newtown but throughout the nation.

The First Congregational Church of Chappaqua is joining the Newtown Foundation and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence to host The Interfaith Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence this Sunday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. The church has invited the entire community for a roughly hour-long service that will feature prayers, music and remarks from those affected by gun violence, said Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs, the church’s senior minister.

She said as deaths across the United States continue to mount because of firearms, people are desperately searching for answers and hope.

“It’s something that has to be addressed because across the United States over 90,000 people have been killed by gun violence over the last three years,” Jacobs said. “Certainly, it impacts certain communities disproportionately and affects people because many victims are innocent bystanders.”

Jacobs said that clergy and congregations from surrounding areas that include a variety of faiths and denominations are scheduled to participate.

She stressed that the vigil is not a rally for gun control. The program’s intent is to remember and honor the victims of those whose lives were cut short rather than encouraging political speeches, Jacobs said.

More than 350 vigils will be held throughout the United States leading up to next Monday’s anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, said Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance. There will also be vigils in Mexico and Beijing, China, she said.

The goal of the alliance, a grassroots organization formed in Newtown shortly after the shooting, is to reverse the escalating gun violence that kills an average of 30,000 people a year across the U.S., she said.

“Our hearts are warmed that so many people want to support the victims of gun violence,” Murray said.

Several other vigils in Westchester have been organized, according to the Newtown Action Alliance, including at the Chatterton Hill Church United Church of Christ in White Plains and the Scarsdale Congregational Church.

The First Congregational Church of Chappaqua is located at 210 Orchard Ridge Rd.

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