SALT LAKE CITY — The darkened sanctuary of All Saints Episcopal Church took on a warm glow Sunday as dozens of people who took part in an interfaith vigil to end gun violence lit thin taper candles as acts of prayer and remembrance.
As participants streamed into the church, they were each given a card on which was printed the name, age and photograph of a person who died as a result of gun violence.
Many of the faces were young people in the prime of their lives.
The event, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, March for our Lives Utah and other organizations that advocate for solutions to end gun violence, marked six years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Twenty-six people — 20 children and six adults — were shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2012. The 20-year-old gunman killed his mother at her home before entering the school. The shooter also took his own life.
The vigil honored all lives affected by gun violence since the Sandy Hook tragedy.
The hour-long Taize vespers service included meditation, prayer and songs of peace and light.
Two high school students, members of March for Our Lives Utah, Asha Pruitt and Zeia Woodruff took part in the service.
Pruitt offered a reading of Isaiah 2:2-5, that said in part, “God shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Woodruff, meanwhile, offered a reading titled, “A student’s prayer for peace.”
The prayer said in part, “Show me the preciousness of every life: The poor whose dignity is wrapped in rags, the weak who carry toughness as a shield, the frightened pretending they are brave. Help me to learn your gentle way of peace.”
Afterward, Woodruff said she was grateful for the vigil because it was an opportunity to remember people who had died as a result of gun violence, to keep the issue in front of the public and consider a better path forward.
“I think that is really super important that there are communities and times set up for people to grieve and reflect on their experiences. Things like this are those safe places that people can do that,” she said.
Pruitt said she particularly appreciated the cards that focused attention on victims of gun violence as individuals. Too often, the focus has been on shooters, which has encouraged a national movement not to name perpetrators or refer to them by name sparingly, keeping the focus on victims, she said.
“A lot of times we don’t think of gun violence victims as humans with their own lives. It’s really important we remember that,” she said.
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