An orange teddy bear covered with victims’ names written in marker rested against a candle stand at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma.
Religious leaders and political figures spoke Tuesday night at a candlelight vigil for those who lost their lives in last week’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. About 150 people attended.
Some speakers discussed gun control; others called for improvements to the mental health care system. The Rev. Gordon Hutchins argued the vigil wasn’t a time for those discussions.
“We need to stop for a moment,” he told the crowd, adding, “We still have kids that need to be buried, and we still have tears that need to be shed.”
The victims’ names were read, and a bell rang for each. The gunman killed 20 children and six adults Friday, then killed himself.
Liam Dugan, 8, said he understood why he was at the vigil with his family.
“So God can help us and bless us so that it wouldn’t happen again,” he said as cousin Jamison Smolic, 11, put a protective arm around him.
The Seui family in Tacoma attended to also mourn two children lost in a cyclone in Samoa last week.
“Connecticut is this little state where everything is quiet,” said 11-year-old Palepa Seui, whose father is the pastor at Tacoma’s Kalevaria United Methodist Church. “But something tragic happened there.”
Michael Collier, event organizer and minister with The Bridge, said a member of the church donated the stuffed bear at the vigil. She hopes to send it to Newtown.
“I think it’s important that people know that communities are coming together all across the country to mourn, but also to look for hope,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Tacomas North End, a quiet vespers service featured chanting, readings, prayer and candle lighting. The Rev. Dave Brown called it a time of reflection not just on the school massacre, but on all the ways violence has affected the world in the past year.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268