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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Prayer vigil to honor victims of gun violence

In an effort to remember victims of local shootings–and show unity towards ending gun violence–more than 15 area faith communities and grassroots organizations are coming together for a candlelight prayer vigil next month.

The vigil is set for 6 to 6:30 p.m. at Bailey Theater Park, 12 N. Front St., on Monday, Dec. 14–the two-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

This year, similar vigils will be held in 36 states to remember all victims of gun violence.

“Some 30,000 Americans die every year of gunshot wounds,” said Don Arabian, a member of Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence, the group organizing the event.

Roughly 3,000 are those are children, he added, and 60 percent are suicides.

According to Arabian, the vigil arose from discussions about gun violence that began earlier this year among a number of Episcopal churches in the area. Those talks evolved into an interfaith effort of individuals from Christian, Jewish, Muslim traditions concerned about gun violence, regardless of the “politics of the gun debate,” he noted.

“We are working hard to bring together all points of views, all sides of the issue,” Arabian said. “We are trying to get past the polarizing nature of the debate. We need to begin a dialogue about gun violence. As people of faith we can’t stand by silently. If we do that, we condone it.”

The vigil will feature prayers from local clergy, lay people and children for victims and their families, as well as those working to curb gun violence locally and for the courage to stand together against the issue. Candles will be lit in memory of victims and the vigil will conclude with a bagpipe solo of “Amazing Grace.”

Sponsoring faith communities and organizations currently include: Church of the Servant Episcopal; St. James Episcopal; St. Mark’s Episcopal; Winter Park Presbyterian; Temple of Israel; Church of the Good Shepherd; Warner Temple AME Zion Church; B’nai Israel Synagogue; St. Paul’s Episcopal; Tauheed Islamic Center; Holy Cross Church, New Covenant Holiness Church; Moms-N-Mourning; St. Philip’s Episcopal in Southport; God’s Comprehensive Outreach Coalition; Grace Church in Whiteville; and St. Luke AME Zion Church.

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