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Interfaith Clergy call for prayers and action in wake of Florida shooting

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People came together to join hands as prayers were said, during a vigil held at New Dimensions Community Church Friday evening.

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Following the wake of the Florida shooting, clergy members of all different faiths came together in Greenville with a message of unity, compassion and action. 

On Friday night, the Pitt County Interfaith Clergy hosted a vigil in honor of the victims and families of a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. The candlelight vigil was held at New Dimensions Community Church. 

Clergy and religious leaders of various faiths came together for about an hour of prayer, reflection and calls for action. 

Samar Badwan, spokesperson for the Greenville Islamic Center and Mosque, said the purpose of the vigil was to give people of all faiths a place to address these traumatic events, and demonstrate that being unified is key to both healing and prevention of such incidents in the future.

“Unfortunately it’s another vigil, unfortunately it’s a another tragedy,” Badwan said. “We feel that our community wants this type of event so that we can come together and make sense of what happened and try to put into perspective what we can do.”

The event started off with a few minutes of song and prayer before various faith leaders stepped forward to express their condolences and offer their perspectives. Many of the leaders who spoke called for the country to come together in compassion, but also to realize compassion should lead to action. 

“We are not powerless, and we are a very few, but in a few can be the many,” said Deacon Bobby Weatherly. “Some will suggest to you that all we can for those people in Broward County, Florida, is to pray. I will suggest to you that’s the first thing we are to do.” 

Reverend Bob Hudak, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church echoed Weatherly’s call to action, saying that while prayer and compassion are the primary needs for these families, using our voices to enact change is important too.  

“We can, just as faith leaders or elected officials, offer our prayers and support, (but) as was said earlier, we’ve got to do something,” he said. “Part of what we need to do is, yes, pray as if everything depended on God, but act as if everything depended on us.” 

Reverend Ann Harrington, with the Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community, said gatherings like this are important because traumatic events have far-reaching effects, and events in places as far away as Florida still can create victims in any community. 

“The deepest belief of my faith is that we are all one, so that whenever one of us is hurt, all of us are hurt,” she said. “We all feel, all of us who are people of compassion and love, the deep hurt and want to express something of that compassion to the wider community and our own community.”

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579. 

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