By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
~60 people sang, prayed, and pondered in a candlelight circle tonight outside Fauntleroy Church, during an emotional vigil that went beyond mourning the 59 lives lost in the Las Vegas massacre.
Leading them, above, were West Seattle’s three United Church of Christ pastors, from left, Rev. Diane Darling of Alki UCC, Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski of Fauntleroy UCC, and Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom of Admiral UCC. Their voices rang clear in the night with grief and anger – and even a prayer of confession, that “I confess I believed things would get better on their own, and I confess that I was wrong.”
There were questions – including those raised in Bob Dylan‘s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the first song led by Bronwyn Edwards and Leann Conley-Holcom, with readings between the verses:
As the names of those who died in the massacre were read – “so many lost” – there were a few words about each. Someone celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary. Someone celebrating their 28th birthday. A father there with his four grown children. Off-duty law enforcers. The mother of a 6-week-old baby. A 67-year-old woman. And when Seattle resident Carrie Parsons‘ name was read, Rev. Atkinson Bilinski noted that Ms. Parsons was the “close friend of the granddaughter of a Fauntleroy Church parishioner.”
A chime sounded after each name and description … and the last name read was that of the killer, noting that he left behind his family, as well as a nation “confused and heartbroken.” And it was noted that the massacre took the spotlight from others around the world who are in pain and suffering, from hurricane and earthquake victims to those in our country experiencing racism and other social injustice daily. Gun-violence statistics were read, including the fact that “most gun deaths are suicides.”
Ultimately, however, the vigil’s message was that of hope, with the candles representing “the light of love” – hope that with action, with collaboration, change can be made. In that spirit, the final song was “Somewhere to Begin” by T.R. Ritchie:
As the vigil ended, participants were invited to continue lighting candles and to write notes of appreciation to local first responders.
We are told the notes will be taken to a local fire station on Sunday.