LISBON - When tragedy happens, people often look for answers and many turn to prayer.
Sunday night, members of the Columbiana community held a candlelight prayer vigil in memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary School students and educators, who died earlier this month and their families in Newtown, Conn.
Newtown, a city with a population under 30,000, held all the funerals before Christmas for the 20 young students and six educators gunned down on Dec. 14. In Columbiana on Sunday, the name of each of them was read aloud, each followed by a full minute of silence for prayers to be offered.
A crowd of about 75 people gathered outside the Main Street Theater Sunday night to pray for the Sandy Hook Elementary victims and their families. (Photo by Deanne Johnson)
"The words are for you and for God," said Paula Archdeacon of the First United Methodist Church of Columbiana before she began to read the names.
"Charlotte Bacon ... Daniel Barden ... Rachel Davino ... Olivia Engel ... Josephine Gay ... "
Some put an arm around their loved one's shoulders, comforting the sniffles which could be heard throughout the crowd.
"Ana M. Marquez-Greene ... Dylan Hockley ... Dawn Hochsprung ... Madeleine F. Hsu ... Catherine V. Hubbard ... "
Each person became lost in their own thoughts. Some parents may have began thinking of their own children, some of whom attended the service.
"Chase Kowalski ... Jesse Lewis ... James Mattioli ... Grace McDonnell ... Anne Marie Murphy ... "
Although probably no one in the theater personally knew a single name on the list, more prayers were offered for each of them, their families and even the entire town in mourning in Connecticut.
"Emilie Parker ... Jack Pinto ... Noah Pozner ... Caroline Previdi ... Jessica Rekos ... "
Prayers were also offered for those families with someone suffering with a mental illness. There are many afraid a loved one's illness could lead to a personal tragedy, not even one of the magnitude caused by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary.
"Avielle Richman ... Lauren Rousseau ... Mary Sherlach ... Victoria Soto ... Benjamin Wheeler ... Allison N. Wyatt."
With the list of names read, Pastor Chuck Hamiton of the Upper Room Fellowship reminded those in attendance to love their loved ones and provide forgiveness. He asked them to help those in the community who have never had a chance to know God and his love.
"We may not be able to go into our schools and pray," Hamilton said. "But we need to cover our schools with prayer."
A poem by an unknown author titled "Sandy Hook Elementary School" was also read aloud. It reminded the 75 or so people in attendance that the 20 small children who died that day are in heaven and there people are coming to God for answers.
At the beginning of the service, which was held by the Columbiana Christian Ministerial Association, Pastor Jan Winnale of the Columbiana Church of the Nazarene said there are too many instances of children dying by violence. He listed statistics he had found, including five children dying from child abuse each day nationwide. He suggested we remember not only the children of Sandy Hook, but also children in the local community who may be dealing with abuse or neglect.
At the end of the service two hymns were sung on the sidewalk in front of the theater. It was a cold, wintry night and the families in attendance huddled together with the candles each person held flickering in the wind.