NORWALK, Conn. – As she lit the first candle in memory of a child killed Friday in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown , the Rev. Dale Ellen Krazmien’s voice began to crack.
“For this child taken from this world,” said the pastor of the East Avenue United Methodist Church in Norwalk. Then a chime rang out, and the 20 parishioners in attendance Friday night during a 35-minute prayer vigil responded in unison, “Be with those who remain and comfort them.”
They repeated that call and response 19 more times, ringing the chime and lighting 19 more candles for each child lost. Then six more times for the adults at the school, including the principal, who were also killed.
The small table holding the candles filled up with light, as did the eyes of many in the congregation with tears. Krazmien invited members of the congregation to the church to pray for the victims and their families and to try to make sense of the horrible events. Also invited were the Rev. Keith Welch, pastor of the Nazarene Church, and the Rev. Oscar Destruge Sandoval, pastor of El Camino United Methodist Church, both in Norwalk.
“We’ve all been so drastically affected by this,” Krazmien said. “Our hearts break.”
Welch and Sandoval led separate prayers during the service, with Welch wiping tears from his eyes on numerous occasions.
Norwalk residents Jim and Kelly Taylor said they were moved to attend the service, in part, because they have two grandchildren who are in kindergarten, the same age as the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
“This is absolutely devastating,” said Kelly Taylor. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.”
In addition to the prayers, the congregation sang three hymns that reflect on grief, forgiveness and moving forward: “Surely The Presence of the Lord,” “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” and “Open My Eyes, That I May See.”
To close the vigil,Welch recited another prayer.
“May the eternal God who is our dwelling place, underneath are the everlasting arms," he said. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. The Lord heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power, whose understanding is beyond measure. Go peaceably with God.”
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