Multi-faith leaders hold service honoring Orlando shooting victims

Multi-faith leaders hold service honoring Orlando shooting victims

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Following the tragic massacre in Orlando, people of different faiths came together Thursday evening to mourn the victims killed inside the Pulse Nightclub.

Local clergy invited believers of all types to the Sharing Our Sorrows Multi-Faith service.

Representatives from various Christian denominations, along with Jewish, Muslim, and LGBT groups attended the vigil to express their collective sadness over the loss of life.

"We may not share the same beliefs," said the Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards, "but we all share the same grief."

Faith leaders from around the city led the diverse crowd inside St. Thomas Episcopal Church in prayer.

Burton-Edwards, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Hilton Ave., said this service was a combined effort between all different faith communities in Columbus. She also said they all felt heartbroken knowing the lives of so many families have been changed forever.

"Some other clergy and I felt it was important for the community to come together, recognizing that this is an enormous tragedy that affects all of us so deeply," Burton-Edwards said.

"It's deeply painful for the gay and lesbian community, but it's deeply painful for everyone," she said.

During the service in Columbus, 49 candles were lit as the name of each shooting victim was read out loud in honor of their memories.

Members of the gay, Jewish, and Muslim communities took turns talking to the crowd about unity and the shared belief in a safer, kinder society.

"Let us continue to actively work for a world where all people can live authentically, in safety," said the Rev. Emily Bel, pastor of Forgiving Heart Christian Community Church.

"We are commanded to pursue justice," Rabbi Beth Schwartz of Temple Israel said, "to go out and do the work of justice and of peace."

"We are sickened and our hearts are broken," said Farhad Alifarhani, a member of the Masjid An Nur Mosque in Columbus.

Burton-Edwards said their mission, as leaders of their respective faith communities, is to remind everyone that the ultimate purpose in life is to care for one another.

"Our hope," Burton-Edwards said, "is that, by digging deeply into our different traditions, we can remember the heart of that - the call to love and be loved."

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