Reflections on a Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence

This past Wednesday, Dec. 12, First Plymouth Congregational UCC and First Universalist Unitarian (both in Englewood, CO) hosted their Candlelight Vigil to Remember All Victims of Gun Violence to honor the thousands of people killed or wounded in America each year due to improper use of guns.

Daryl Schreiber, our current Executive Admin (and new Manager of Communications & Databases beginning January 1) attended the vigil; read her reflections and view photos of the event below.

On Wednesday, I attended a candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence. It was held at First Plymouth Church in Englewood and organized by Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence, which First Plymouth helped establish in 2014.

The vigil was two days before the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. To honor lives lost much too soon, about 60 people took to the corner of Hampden Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Southeast Denver with hand-painted signs calling for action against gun violence.

The gathering began with words of welcome from Rev. George Anastos, Senior Pastor of First Plymouth; Rabbi Richard Rheins of Temple Sinai; and Rev. Morgan Caruthers Fletcher from Calvary Baptist Church. Each shared words of comfort, strength, and encouragement. Their message was clear and concise: “Find strength in those around you so that you may carry on in this important work.”

After some hot cider, fellowship, and hearing our charge to persevere, we proceeded from the courtyard of First Plymouth toward the busy intersection of Colorado & Hampden. Along with their signs, some carried candles or flashlights—tiny beacons of light to guide our way as evening descended around us.

I spoke to one woman who told me that, for her, attending this vigil and sharing a message of anti-violence felt like doing something. She couldn’t afford to donate much time or money to the cause, she said, but she could at least stand up and remember those who can no longer stand up for themselves.

The feelings of community and strength called upon at the beginning of the vigil were now palpable. Simply standing and being a part of this group felt both reverent and uplifting. With every honk of a passing car, every wave from a driver, we witnessed a little bit of our message disseminating out into the world.

These days, the reality of gun violence is known to all. Shootings occur so regularly that it feels like the new normal. But as our signs and hearts declared, “This is not normal, and this needs to stop.”

Change can begin with us, and more importantly, we can work to see change through. It’s just a matter of strength: We must be vigilant and continue to stand firm in our belief that a better world is possible.