St. Mary Anne’s holds ser­vice for Las Ve­gas vic­tims

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IAN­NETTA jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

NORTH EAST — As the clock struck noon Tues­day, the first peal of the bell at St. Mary Anne’s Epis­co­pal Church rang out over the quiet town streets.

The Rev. John Scha­ef­fer pulled the rope on the 300-year-old church’s bell as the half dozen parish­ioners around him be­gan to qui­etly count, get­ting louder as they edged closer to the fi­nal, grim num­ber.

“40, 41, 42,” they counted as Scha­ef­fer used his full body weight to pull on the bell cord.

“This is more emo­tional than I thought,” he said as the numbers steadily rose.

“56, 57, 58, 59,” they said as Scha­ef­fer let the rope drop and all paused to lis­ten as the last peals rang out in the early au­tumn air.

This scene played out at Epis­co­pal churches all around the coun­try on Tues­day af­ter­noon as con­gre­ga­tions gath­ered to re­mem­ber the 59 peo­ple killed and hun­dreds in­jured in Las Ve­gas on Sun­day in the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­tory. Epis­co­pal churches were asked to all ring their bells at noon East­ern Standard Time as a way to re­mem­ber the vic­tims.

Scha­ef­fer said the church has held other sim­i­lar ser­vices in the wake of na­tional events, such as the shoot­ing at the Pulse night club in Or­lando last year. But he said the act of ring­ing the bell brought out more emo­tions for him than he ex­pected.

“It was highly emo­tional,” he said. “It was just go­ing through my head, the pho­tos that we all saw on­line and on TV ... it was pretty emo­tional, I was think­ing it would be more me­chan­i­cal.”

The ser­vice in­cluded the read­ing of sev­eral prayers and a psalm as well as a “note to God,” that started with a sim­ple greet­ing: “Dear God, we are not OK today.”

“We had self­ishly hoped to find a new nor­mal, but per­haps that was ask­ing too much of our­selves ... We have been re­minded again that some peo­ple are not look­ing for any­thing that is rea­son­able, log­i­cal or ra­tio­nal; they just want to watch the world burn. We are not OK. They are not OK. Our world is not OK. I am not OK,” the prayer con­tin­ued.

The prayer ended on a more hope­ful note, cit­ing a verse from Corinthi­ans that states, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the great­est of these is love,” be­fore con­clud­ing:

“Though our faith and hope may be a lit­tle weary, we trust that love will be the great­est.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

Dif­fer­ent mem­bers of the St. Mary Anne’s con­gre­ga­tion took turns read­ing dur­ing a ser­vice for the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing vic­tims.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

The Rev. John Scha­ef­fer rings the bell at St. Mary Anne’s Epis­co­pal Church in mem­ory of the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing vic­tims as parish­ioners look on.

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