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Service Of Lament And Hope In Prairie Village For Victims Of Orlando Shooting

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Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3
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Rev. Tom Are, Jr. of Village Presbyterian Church helps light candles in memory of Orlando victims

As late afternoon sun streamed through the towering church windows of the Village Presbytarian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, Wednesday, more than a hundred people gathered to remember the dead and pray for survivors.

"For those grieving, those clinging to life, and those welcomed into God's hands, let us gather to worship," said Rev. Tom Are, Jr., softly. "We've learned that when life is broken, it's important to be in God's presence as a source of healing."

After readings from  the Bible, those in the pews formed a single line in front of the pulpit. One by one, they came forward to light a candle as a minister read the name of each victim.

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Credit Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3
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Participants in the service lit a candle as ministers said something about each shooting victim.

"Simon (Adrian) Carillo-(Fernandez), age 31, always brought a cake to celebrate his employee's birthdays.  Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, age 50, always made a point to help friends and family."

After the last name had been read, Rev. Are Jr., took a candle, lit it and recited the name of the shooter — Omar Mateen.

He placed that candle on the table with the rest.

After the service, Rev. Are Jr., said human beings are touched by the hurt of other human beings.

"There's concern, not only for those who lost their lives, but for those who went through that inhumane experience," he said. "We need a moment to name it and to try to reflect on how ... on who do we be in the wake of such realities, knowing this is the world we live in."

Village Presbyterian has some LGBT members, Rev. Are, Jr., said, and their commitment to the church during some ugly times has been an important lesson.

"They've stayed with the church as the community has taken its own sweet time to decide whether they're OK or not," he said. "It's important to say to the (LGBT) community you're loved, you belong, don't be ashamed or afraid, you're not alone."

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @Laurazig.

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