Coming together in song and silent meditation Monday night, approximately 50 Newarkers aimed to convey a strong message to the people of Orlando, Fla., the LGBT community and the community at large.
“We’re all in this together,” Karen Barker told the group gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark for a candlelight vigil in honor of the 49 people killed when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. “Spread the love and work for justice.”
Barker is a member of UUFN’s Welcoming Congregation Committee, which does outreach to the LGBT community. She learned of the tragedy in Florida when her daughter called from Los Angeles in tears.
“She said, ‘I need to find somewhere to be with people,’” Barker recalled. “That made me realize I needed to do something here.”
Gathering in UUFN’s MacKinnon Hall, the participants sang hymns and lit candles.
Barker read a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” she said, quoting King. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Jane Bowen is not a member of UUFN but wanted to attend Monday night’s vigil to send the message “to love one another.”
“I just felt like I wanted to be with people who have the same mindset as me and show compassion for the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Bowen is co-chair of the United Way of Delaware’s PRIDE Council, which works to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. She said her group has already reached out to therapists and counselors around the state to find support for those struggling with the aftermath of the shooting.
After the vigil, UUFN member John Pesek said the message he wanted to convey was one of forgiveness.
“We won’t get anywhere by hating this man back or the people who sold him guns,” Pesek said.