Clergy and churches of Big Rapids host candlelight vigil for victims of Tree of Life Synagogue shooting

Barbara Pillsbury (front) and Rev. J.T. Hills spoke to people in attendance of the interfaith candlelight vigil on Saturday about remembering the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. (Pioneer photos/Taylor Fussman)

BIG RAPIDS — Members of the Big Rapids area community gathered this weekend to remember the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The clergy and churches of Big Rapids hosted an interfaith candlelight vigil at the United Church of Big Rapids on Saturday and invited all members of the community to join the evening of prayer and remembrance.

Rev. J.T. Hills, of the United Church of Big Rapids, said he thought it would be helpful to people in the area to be able to attend an interfaith service to connect with their individual faiths and process what happened in Pittsburgh.

During the candlelight vigil, those in attendance were asked to share what they hope for in the future, and sentiments such as peace, tolerance and togetherness echoed through the room.

Also during the vigil, Barbara Pillsbury, who attends Temple Emanuel in Grand Rapids, invited everyone to place a stone in front of 11 lit candles, to honor the 11 people who were killed in the synagogue shooting.

“I think grief is something we need to experience as a community. It is so difficult for us to go it alone, especially with something like this where hate plays such a big part,” Hills said.

Rev. J.T. Hills, of the United Church of Big Rapids, lights 11 candles in honor of the victims who were killed in the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

Several members of different churches throughout the community attended the interfaith candlelight vigil on Saturday.

Barbara Pillsbury asked attendees to participate in remembering the victims of the synagogue shooting by placing a small stone in front of 11 lit candles.

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