When tragedy struck town

January 1, 2016 -- Living City

When tragedy struck town​
Coming together when our community was suffering

Just before Easter last year, there were several acts of violence in our town within the space of a week. The first horrible, terrifying incident involved a young pregnant woman, who went to a house to buy baby clothes that had been advertised on Craigslist.

After entering the home, she was brutally attacked by the woman who lived in the house. The woman cut the baby from the pregnant woman’s womb and left her to die. The pregnant woman was able to get help and survived, but the baby did not. This incident was immensely shocking to
the community.

Within days a young man attacked his mother and father with a knife, killing the father and then taking his own life. The mother survived.

The parochial vicar of our Catholic parish subsequently came to our home to have lunch. We spoke of the violence that had recently occurred. He shared his dream of an ecumenical prayer service for the victims, their families and first responders so that as a Christian community we could come together in this difficult time.

We said that we would like to help him, and he took us at our word. He gave us a list of all the different congregations in our town, asking if we could invite them to join the prayer service.

We certainly didn’t have that in mind, but we felt that God was asking us to be faithful to our offer! That afternoon, we began to drive through town, stopping at every church we could. We were greeted with much love and acceptance.
Every one we spoke with agreed to help us and ultimately, about 12 different denominations participated in the vigil.

We met at our home for lunch and planned the service. The pastors made the time even though they were also preparing for their upcoming Easter celebrations. There was such a spirit of cooperation and unity among us that it was a joy to work together.

A member of each church community had a part to play. Some read passages from scripture, some gave short commentaries, some were greeters. There were prayers, petitions and singing. It was a beautiful moment of unity and caring.

Afterward someone told us, “I’ve lived here for many years, but this is the first time I’ve seen all the different churches come together for something like this.”

All of the participants and ministers had stood in the sanctuary and held hands and said the Our Father together. After the service a woman said to me, “It had brought tears to my eyes to see everyone around the altar holding hands.”

This past fall the United Church of Christ, the hosts of the vigil, asked if we would allow them to use our house for their Longmont Christmas Tour. It’s an event that takes place every year to raise money for the homeless in our community. Our home along with four others was decorated for the tour, which took place right after Thanksgiving.

So the relationship continues!

— Mary Lou and Del Wnorowski,
Longmont, Colorado