A crowd of approximately 50 mourners stood silently in the West Jefferson Town Hall this evening for a memorial service for the 26 victims of the Sandy Hill Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Pastor Pete Taylor of West Jefferson United Methodist Church led the service with a sermon on the urgency of doing good in the face of evil.
While there is evil in the world, Taylor said, there is also good.
“We see it everyday in the smiles of our children,” he said, “in the people of the community that come together and help one another, and the countless acts of charity…every day of the year here in Ashe County.”
“You are God’s hands and feet,” said Taylor.
“Some folks believe God was there and didn’t do anything,” he said, “[but] God gave us the freedom to choose right from wrong, good from evil, virtue over sin.”
The future of our community, the United States and the world depend on us making this choice, he said.
Gwynita Steele, the organizer of the memorial, read a letter from the Ashe County Quilters Guild dedicating a “Quilt of Love” to be sewn and sent to the people of Newtown.
The quilt, to “provide warmth from the cold and comfort to those in need,” and “form a united symbol of love for all mankind,” will feature the 26 letters of the alphabet, symbolizing the 26 victims, and will be sent to Newtown when it is completed sometime in January.
The mourners filed outside onto the sidewalk to light candles as a stiff winter breeze blew down South Jefferson Avenue. Pastor Taylor lead them in singing “Silent Night.”
A group of children lit 26 votive candles, one for each victim, dedicating a small shrine to them in front of Town Hall, as a chime was rung 26 times.
Taylor gave a benediction, and the mourners quietly dispersed.