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Interfaith Vigil for Victims of Newtwon, Connecticut, School Shooting

Aired December 16, 2012 - 19:50   ET



REV. MATT CREBBIN, SR. MINISTER, NEWTOWN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH: On behalf of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association, I welcome all of you. We need this. We needed to be together here in this room, in the gymnasium, outside the doors of this school, in living rooms around the world. We needed to be together. To show that we are together and united. We gather in such a moment of heart break for all of us here in Newtown.

We gather especially mindful of family and friends and neighbors among us who have lost loved ones by an act of unfathomable violence and destruction. We gather to grieve together, to care for one another, to pray and embrace, to weep and to remember and to declare in our many voices that these darkest days of our community shall not be the final word heard from us. We will sigh in our sorrows, but we will also care for one another with our love and our compassion.

In those early hours of this crisis, it became clear to we, clergy and faith leaders, here in Newtown that an initial community response would be needed, that we would need to come together, and so we asked our first select woman and our superintendent if it might be possible for us clergy to invite the community to gather here at Newtown High School to continue and to begin and to continue what will be, for many, a long journey through grief and loss.

We are not here to ignore our differences or to diminish the core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions, but to offer our love, care, and prayers for our families and our community. We wanted to offer our voices in the form of words from our sacred texts and prayers from the depths of our being, but also to have time for us to be together in silence. And that is what we will do. We will have a time for sharing and prayer and also a time for silence in between so that all of us can pray as we wish and think about what it is that is most important to us.

Now there's a reason why all of the clergy are sitting down there and not up here, and we hope you don't get tired of seeing us have a long walk up to this podium. But we wanted to be - to have a symbolic gesture that we ourselves are with you and among you in these coming days. That we are all in this together. We want you to know that our care for this community extends beyond the walls of our various houses of worship and the people within them. We are here for all of Newtown. That means that you who are of St. Rose Catholic Church, in the midst of your tremendous grief, there is a Jewish rabbi with a torah in hand ready to speak words of comfort and do whatever he can to uphold you in the coming days.

And Temple of Israel, you have the service of a Japanese-American United Methodist Minister ready to pray for you and sing songs from John Wesley. We congregationists know we have Muslim brothers and sisters ready to offer prayers of comfort and acts of compassion. Pentecostals are willing to pray with Episcopalians and Bahais, and Lutherans offering ministries of grace in Jesus Christ to independent Christians, and to others. And all of us willing to offer and receive comfort and support from those of no faith.

You see, now more than ever we need each other, for we are all in this together. That's why we even had our politicians sit down there as well. As sign and symbol and reminder to all of us that we are in this together. So now let us come together. Let us pray.

Let us listen and let us seek the comfort of our various faiths, drawing from words and prayers. Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious hand. God is with us. God's love unites us, God's purpose steadies us. God's spirit comforts us. Bless be our God forever and ever. Amen.

RABBI SHAUL PRAVER, CONGREGATION ADACHI: I offer you this prayer from my heart to your hearts. On behalf of all of your children, all of your loved ones. The Hebrew memorial prayer. Please rise.


PRAVER: Oh, God exalted in full of compassion, grant perfect peace in your sheltering presence among the holy and the pure to the souls of all of our loved ones that perished in that horrible day. They have gone to their eternal home.

Master of mercy, we beseech you. Remember all of their worthy and righteous deeds that they performed in the land of the living. May their souls be bound up in the bond of life eternal. There is no death, just transformation.

May they rest in peace. And let us say amen.

REV. MEL KAWAKAMI, SR. PASTOR, NEWTOWN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Amen. Please be seated. And let us unite our hearts in prayer.

Oh, God of love and mercy. We come before you this night with broken hearts. We offer you our tears and our pain, our anger and our sorrow. Oh, Lord, there was a hole so large we wonder if even you and your greatness can fill it as we grieve and mourn for those who are lost.

Each light that sits before us is a light that's been lost to our world. So many innocents, so many brave, Lord, all we can do is throw ourselves upon your tender mercies, trusting that you hear our prayers.

We know those who are lost, because they are ours, Lord. Not names on some list, but our mothers or sisters, our brothers or friends, kindred all, because if we did not know them ourselves, we know someone who did.

And so we pray, Lord, for all the souls lost and all the families and friends who are so torn by grief. For in this moment, we are all your children, a family related by your love. So help us to care for these families in their sorrow and for each other in ours.

May they feel the healing embrace of a neighborhood, a town, a state, a nation, a world. Help us to forever remember that -- we embrace the grieving as our own and bring us together as one family to live together in peace and amity. Help us to share the lights that stand before us. Help us to carry them out into this world and share it with a world so in sorrow and so in need.

For we pray all of this in the name of your love as we all say amen.

KATHIE ADAMS-SHEPHERD, RECTOR, TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH: We invite you to join with us in Psalm 23 in whatever way you know it in your heart. Doesn't have to be the words we're offering here.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadth me beside the still waters. He restore my soul. He leadth me in the path of righteousness for his namesake. Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou aren't with me by rod and by staff they comfort me. Thou prepare us the table before me in the presence of my enemies, thou anointh my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy that follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

REV. JIM SOLOMON, NEW HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Let us pray. God in heaven, we thank you for your presence with us here on earth. We know that the children who were lost in this tragedy first belonged to you before they belonged to us. And we commit their souls to you, to your loving, eternal care.

We thank you, Lord, that they are now in a place of no more sickness, no more sadness, no more suffering, and no more sorrow, as there is finally no more sin in the presence of you, their savior and ours.

Dear Lord, as we leave the children that we have lost in your hands, we ask that by your grace, you would empower us to bless and comfort the children who are still here in our hands. Please be with them in a special way as they grieve the loss of siblings and friends.

Life will never be the same for them. We ask that you would help these precious little ones to carry the spirits of their lost loved ones in their hearts as they go along living their lives to its fullest, according to your will for each of these girls and boys.

And Lord, we ask most of all that you would use us to be a source of your healing in the midst of their wounds. That would use -- you would use those of us whose children are crying for hope as a source of your hope in the midst of any hopelessness, as you are the God of hope. Use us to replace their anxiety with your peace, as you are the God of peace. And please, fill their hearts with the sense of your love, your presence, your power, and most of all, a sense of your care. Not knowing what the future holds, but knowing that you hold it, as you hold these precious little ones who are still with us today in your hands through our hands.

And Lord, we ask this all in the name of the one who said, unless we become like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Make us all childlike and not childish. And our thoughts and our words and our attitudes and actions and behaviors not only before others, but before you, that we may look to you for better days ahead and that we may fulfill your purpose for us on this earth.

For we pray all of this of the name -- in the name of our precious Lord and savior, Jesus. Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of God, the compassionate and the merciful, the Muslim community at the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown, in Connecticut, and throughout the nation, joins with our fellow Americans, grieving for those who died in the senseless tragedy and praying for them and their families.

We ask God to grant those lost a special place in paradise, and we ask their families to be granted the strength to endure the unendurable. It is in such times of almost unbearable loss that we seek the comfort with our creator and that artificial divisions of faith fall away to reveal a nation of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, all united in a desire to bring healing and renewed hope.

The Quran, Islam's revealed text, tells us that God's mercy and compassion are without limit and always available for those who ask. God says, when my servants question you about me, tell them that I am near. I answer the prayer of every person who calls on me. Chapter 2 verse 186, the Quran -- in the Quran, God also says, give glad tidings to those who endure with patience, who when afflicted with calamity, say we belong to God and to him we shall return. Such are the people on whom there are blessings and mercy from God. Chapter 2, verse 155 to 157.

So let us all, of every faith, of every background, pray for God's comfort at this time of -- heartbreaking tragedy. Barely, with every difficulty, there is ease. Barely, with every difficulty, there is ease, chapter 94, verse 1 through 5 and 5 through 6. Amen.

REV. JANE SIBLEY, NEWTOWN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: A prayer for the first responders. Let us pray. Holy God, many of these men and women you called into service when they were just children. They wanted to be police officers and firefighters and care for those that were in need, Lord.

You gave them gifts for their life to serve. You asked them to pay a high price for all the skills that they have been given, for the strength that they have. You equipped them. You gave them a willingness to learn, to train, to study. You gave them a willingness to serve in the middle of the night when a call would come in. And you gave them the willingness to respond when this town needed them the most.

Lord, we thank you for those in this town that responded, but we thank you also for those throughout the state that came when the need was given. We thank you, Lord, for their gifts and their strength and their courage. So we ask you, Lord, to walk with them in the days ahead, to surround them with your angels, to give them people who will listen to their story, to listen to what they saw that was not for anyone to ever see.

Lord, we place each and every one of these men and women in your care, but we will be faithful to them. We will care for them. We will continue to equip them, and we will keep them ever in our prayers. Amen.

JOHN WOODALL, BAHA'I COMMUNITY LEADER: For the mothers and the fathers and the brothers and sisters, the grandparents. For all of you today. This is a sacred text from the Baha'i faith. It was written as a letter to a mother who was mourning the loss of her child. I've adapted it for this evening.

Although the loss of a child is indeed heartbreaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth and understandeth is assured that the child had not been lost, but rather have stepped from this world into another, and you will find them in the divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world, separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief.

Praise be unto God that thou has faith. Our turning thy faith toward the everlasting kingdom and believeth in the existence of the heavenly world. Therefore these are not disconsolate. Do not languish. Do not sigh. Neither wail, nor weep, for agitation and mourning deeply affect the soul, their soul, in the divine realm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That beloved child address thee from the hidden world. Oh, thou kind mother and father, thank divine providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage, and like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world, a world which is spacious, illumined and ever joyous and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, oh, mother and father, and be not grieved.

I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.

REV. LEO MCILRATH, CHAPLAIN, LUTHERAN HOME OF SOUTHBURY: Lord God, we call you by many names. Elohim, modern eye, great spirit, higher power, divine one, but however we address you, you are always father and mother to us all, and we are your children. We are your family.

We ask your blessing, Lord, upon the counselors and the clergy and all the caregivers among us. They have great passion for what they do and when everyone does their passion, we arrive at compassion, and we thank you.

We know that you're most aware of their needs. They, too, become tired and sometimes close to burning out. How much we need one another.

When you call Jeremiah or Amos or Baruk and all your precious apostles and prophets, they hedged at first. But each time, in turn, they gave their yes and they followed you. Knowing that you were always among them, always supporting them.

They were conduits for your eyes and your ears and your voice and your hands. They were the clay knowing that you always were the potter. And they were resilient in your hands. When Jesus felt the need to get away for some respite himself, he went to the mountains or into the wilderness or out to the seashore, and the great numbers of people in need always followed.

Tired and drained as he was, he looked on them with compassion. Anoint all your people, Lord, all those who minister to you as they minister to one another and especially this week as they minister to the body, mind, and spirit, to the whole community of Sandy Hook and Newtown. A model for the nation, a model for the world, and we thank you for the world's support, calling, e-mailing, texting their love and their commitment to be one with us.

Use them, Lord. Take the passion that each one has and transform it totally, completely into your spirit of compassion. And we ask this all, amen. Amen.

PATRICIA LLODRA, FIRST SELECTMAN, TOWN OF NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT: Newtown is a place that loves children above all. Families move to Newtown because we are a caring and loving community. We are also a place that has great pride in our schools, pride that propels the students in those schools with their outstanding teachers and administrators to high achievement and great personal worth.

The horror that was visited upon our sandy hook school was not deserved. It is the angry and desperate act of a confused young man. There was no blame to be laid on us, but there is a great burden and a great challenge that we emerge whole that these families devastated by unspeakable harm know and trust that we love them and will do everything we can to help them heal.

I know that Newtown will prevail, that we will not fall to acts of violence. It is a defining moment for our town, but it does not define us.

We are Newtown, a special and caring place. We are defined by acts of courage, by acts of love, and by our continuing commitment and love for our children and families.

It is my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to present to you Governor Dan Malloy.

(APPLAUSE) GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Pat, thank you for all the great work that you have done for this community in the last three days, to the police chief, and to the superintendent of schools, thank you for your great service, as well to all of the first responders. Thank you.

When I came in to the hall, one of the first songs to be played on the piano was "Amazing Grace," which is fitting for any number of reasons. It's become an anthem for first responders, it has great words, it also speaks of the power of faith.

"Amazing Grace" was written by a former sea captain engaged in the slave trade. And those profound words that "I once was lost and now am found" speak to us on a day like today. When we are called upon, dare I say required to be invested in our faith, a faith so evident in this room and in this community at this time. A faith that is, after all, at its very core, a gift from God.

A faith in which we find comfort and hope and compassion. A faith in which we are given the power to go on. To survive that which has befallen this community, these families, these spouses, that which has happened and is unimaginable and unthinkable and was never, we thought, intended to be visited upon us here in Connecticut or in Newtown or in Sandy Hook.

I choose to think about the fact that in the coming days we will officially enter winter. And that is always to be followed by the spring. Let me assure you that in winter, each time I see the beginning of a snowfall, I will be thinking of those 27 souls lost just a few days ago. Each time the day gets a little longer, I will think and dream of the lives that might have been and the lives that were so full of grace.

And when the flowers start to come out of the ground, and when they rise up, I will know that we are in touch with those that we have lost in the last few days. We will go on. We will find strength. Faith is a gift, as is our ability to support one another in our greater community.

To all of you, I extend my most profound condolences on behalf of all of your fellow citizens for what you have seen, what you have witnessed, and what you have personally experienced. We will move on, we will never forget, we will in many ways be made stronger for what has transpired, and we will get better.

We are blessed today to have with us the president of the United States, who upon meeting with pat and I just a little while ago, said that the most difficult day of his presidency was Friday when he heard the news of that which had befallen this community.

I assured him that Connecticut, Newtown and Sandy Hook are strong, and I welcomed him on your behalf to our community.

I now introduce the president of the United States.


To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests, scripture tells us do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. Since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.

We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief. That our world, too, has been torn apart. That all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We've pulled our children tight, and you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.

Newtown, you are not alone. As these difficult days have unfolded, you've also inspired us. With stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school's staff did not flinch. They did not hesitate.

Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Russeau, Rachel Davino, and Anne Marie Murphy. They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms and kept steady through it all and reassured their students by saying wait for the good guys, they are coming. Show me your smile. And we know that good guys came, the first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm's way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and their own trauma, because they had a job to do and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do. One child even trying to encourage a grownup by saying, "I know karate, so it's OK, I'll lead the way out."

As a community, you've inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you've looked out for each other. You've cared for one another. And you've loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God's grace, that love will see you through. But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions.

Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child. Suddenly exposed to the world the possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there's nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm, and yet we also know that with that child's very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us.

That we won't -- that we can't always be there for them. They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

And we know we can't do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can't do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together. With the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we're counting on everybody else to help look after ours. That we're all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we're meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we're all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We're not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I've been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings. Fourth time we've hugged survivors, the fourth time we've consoled the families of victims, and in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America.

Victims who much of the time their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can't be an excuse for inaction.

Surely we can do better than this. If there's even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that's visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine.

Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

You know, all the world's religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question. Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it's wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped.

We know that no matter how good our intentions, we'll all stumble sometimes in some way. We'll make mistakes, we'll experience hardships, and even when we're trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God's heavenly plans. There's only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have. For our children, for our families, for each other.

The warmth of a small child's embrace, that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger. We know that's what matters. We know we're always doing right when we're taking care of them. When we're teaching them well. When we're showing acts of kindness.

We don't go wrong when we do that. That's what we can be sure of, and that's what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That's how you've inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that's what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this earth.

Let the little children come to me, Jesus said, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison. God has called them all home.

For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we've lost in his heavenly place. May he grace those we still have with his holy comfort, and may he bless and watch over this community and the United States of America.


REV. ROBERT WEISS, ST. ROSE OF LIMA ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: On behalf of the Newtown Clergy Association, we are so grateful to our president for spending time with us and for reminding us that we are not alone in this time of tragedy, that there's not just a country standing behind us, that there's a world standing behind us. Those words I know, as difficult as they were to hear for some, brought much consolation to all.

I want to thank our governor and all the state officials who have been by our side since day one. They have been a remarkable reminder to us of their humanity and their care for us. But most of all, I want to thank an incredible First Select woman who has led us through the most dark periods of our lives.


In the storms of the past years ravaged our community without power for days, I thought those were the hardest days of Pat's life, but when I saw her Friday in front of Sandy Hook School, I realized that she'd met the most dark days.

Pat, to you, to Dr. Robinson, we thank you for being leaders to us through these difficult times.

And now this final part of our prayer is for us, the people of Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the words of the Apostle Paul as he writes to the church at Rome.

What then shall we say in response to this, if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for all of us, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen, that is God who justifies, who is he that condemns?

Christ Jesus who died, more than that who was raised to life, was at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ, shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword as it is written for your sake, we face death all day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

Know in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else, in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.


WEISS: And so we stand now in prayer for ourselves. Our hearts are broken, but our spirits are strengthened by the power of God's goodness and his ever-creating love and by the generous hearts of a community who truly cares. We have shown to the world our compassion. But you have placed on our shoulders a burden of imaginable pain. You have put in our hearts the resolve to work together to make of this world a place of justice, of peace, of truth, for our people, especially for our young.

We thank you this night for our community leaders who have walked a dark road helping us find a light. We pray for men and for women and whose love for each other have given us children that we might guide and encourage them.

We seek your wisdom as our administrators and our educators continue to teach our children ways that will strengthen them to be productive and positive citizens of this world. To only bring right and good, not harm or hurt. We pray that this culture of death that is overshadowing our entire country, especially now in this, our town, will soon be replaced with a culture of life that embraces every person with human dignity.

We are brought to you tonight in our prayer those we have lost, those whose hearts have been broken forever. We bring to you 20 new stars in the heavens, 20 new saints, 20 new angels. We bring to you those who risked their lives for us every day, not counting the cost. And we bring to you those who guide, those who counsel, those who bless, and embrace the confused and the broken.

And now in this prayer we bring to you ourselves, our brokenness, our questions, our doubts, our anger, and our hearts.

And we pray for the peace, the hope, and the renewal of trust that can come only from a god who first conceived us in love and places a hand of compassion on each of our shoulders, even in this most challenging time.

And so tonight, for our community, a community deeply pained, we ask you to heal the brokenness, to answer our questions, to replace our doubts with certainty, our anger with peace, and our hurt with healing.

God, we thank you for this town. We thank you for its people. And we thank you for this opportunity to stand together and not to fall apart. Amen.

REV. ROB MORRIS, VICAR, CHRIST THE KING LUTHERAN CHURCH: Now a final blessing of hope through faith in Jesus Christ from the words of Saint John and Saint Paul.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, behold the dwelling place of god is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their god. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away, and he who was seated on the throne said, behold I am making all things new.

And now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

I ask you to please take your seats until I can receive confirmation that the president has safely exited the school campus. And I don't know who that confirmation is going to come from. But allow me to say while I wait for that, we then encourage all of you, on behalf of the Newtown Clergy, give to one another all the love and care and support that you can. And clergy will be available for you at this time at the platform for a time of prayer, according to each of their teachings and beliefs.

So please do remain seated until I can receive that word of confirmation and then comfort one another.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A powerful, very moving interfaith prayer vigil here in Newtown, Connecticut. We heard from the clergy, from various religions, the religions of the United States of America. We heard, of course, from the President of the United States, and he vowed, after the senseless murders in Arizona, in Colorado, in Wisconsin, and now here in Connecticut, he vowed that he would do whatever his office would allow him to do, whatever powers he now has, to try to make sure this does not happen again. And he will work diligently in that area.