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54 Faith & Spirituality FRIDAY, JANUARY 4 - MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2013 Cape Gazette I j t 1 Cape Region pastors reflect on Dec. 14 massacre l00ligious community discusses how to cope with tragedy Pain and suffering were felt by parents, families and caring peo- ple everywhere, when it became known Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., that a terrible massacre had taken place in, of all places, an elementary school, just before Christmas. Put yourself in the place of a c|egT person in the days follow- ing the event. How would you have addressed the calamity? The Rev. Jonathan Baker, pas- tor of Epworth U.M. Church in Rehoboth Beach, said, "Normal- ly, in our tradition, we focus on Advent at this time. It's a time of respite and renewal. Our theme for the Sunday after the calamity was joy," he said. "We already had concerns about a message of joy, what with news of missiles being launched, 1 financial matters, and prob- lems everywhere of illness and battle," Baker said. "When it comes to joy, we have an awareness of God being with us despite what's going on in the world,' he added. "In my sermon that Sunday, I referred to the 2006 killing of Amish children. Their parents felt deep grief but chose to for- give. We must deal constructive- ly with our feelings, be open and honest with them, and realize that even in a troubled world, there is hope and joy." "We need to help parents, gandparents, and children feel strengthened by their faith and feel safe again," he added. k?.We must deal more seriously with mental issues," Baker said. "There's been a drying up of re- sources, and we need to help those who struggle with it as well as professionals who deal with it every day." Baker, as lead pastor, wrote a letter to Presi- dent Barack Obama outlin- ing his church's concerns rela- tive to the tragedy. Mem- bers of the con- gregation signed the let- JeromeTilghman ter, and copies have been sent to Delaware legislators. That let- ter and his message to his con- gregation are at the end of this story. The Rev. Jerome E. Tilgh- man Sr., pastor for the Lewes Charge made up of two church- es, Israel UM and Faith UM Church, said, "Like the rest of the country, we were saddened to hear the tragic news. In our churches, we prayed for the fam- ilies and community and drew on our Bibles for strength." He added, "Our society and world are more secular now, and we need to draw close to God, knowing that God is love." The Rev. Max Wolf, rector of the All Saints' Episcopal Parish, said before he preached at two services at All Saints' Church on the Sunday after the tragedy, ear- ly that day he scanned the Sun- day morning newspaper and found the names of the New- town children and adults lost, as well as pictures of some of the children. "I studied it and then I put the clipping at the altar in our side chapel. I knew that I couldn't look at those faces and preach," he said. Before he became an Episco- pal priest, Wolf said he was cau- tioned by someone not to do it. "Everyone's dying on you," the friend said. "Well, in a year's time now, I do 20 to 25 services a year for those who die," said Wolf. '2 believe in ever- lasting life and salvation. I can help to turn someone over into God's hands. It's a privilege." "It was a toxic issue," said the Father Max Wolf Rev. Christo- pher Moore, Episcopal piiest associate with All Saints' Parish. He led wor- shippers at St. George's Chapel that Sunday after the grim Friday. "We all felt sadness and anger," he said. "I based my sermon on the Bible passages that day, on John the Baptist, the wheat and the chaff, how values are impor- tant in life and of no importance in the case of the chaff." "We prayed for the children, their parents and families and all who were affected by the event," he said. "We were all saturated by it." Also shocked at the Dec. 14 massacre was Fr. Jim Hreha, founding pastor of St. Jude's Ro- man Catholic Church in Lewes. "We all wondered what this world was coming to," he said. "For our school of religion, we already have people who are hall monitors," he said. 'nd, we have a building principal for each of our two sessions every Sunday." What does Hreha see coming from what happened in New- town? "We need to contact the authorities when we see some- thing suspicious and not depend on someone else doing it," he said. The Rev. Harry Hughes, pastor of Lewes Presbyterian Church, did his regular three services the Sunday after the events of Dec. 14. "We prayed for the victims of the assault," he said. 'nd, we lifted up the children and teach- ers lost." "It's been suggested that we do a sermon and special teaching session on evil in the new year," Hughes said. "We need to re- member the victims of Newtown on an ongoing basis." Hughes is a parent, the father of five children. His church has an after-school program for at- risk children. "We also work with the Com- munity Resource Center to help families and individuals get a better grip on life," he said. As president of the Lewes-Re- hoboth Association of Churches and its 18 members, he is active in the community. LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT The following is e copy of the letter thot Boker end his congregotion sent to President Obeme end Delcwore legisletors end o messoge he sent to his congregetion: President Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, 1 write to you joining you and the rest of the country in grieving for yet another gun shooting, this time at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Tragically, 27 people were shot and killed, with 20 of those being children. I know we as a nation mourn this tragic toss of life and we pray for comfort and healing for the families devastated by this senseless violence.. I deeply appreciate the statement you made immediately following this tragedy when you said: "As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether !t's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsiv, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner m Chicago - these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this," regardless of the politics". As you begin your second terrh as president, I ask that that preventing senseless gun violence will be a high priority for you and for Congress. Your leadership is crucial in addressing this issue. As a follower of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, along with persons from other faith communities who worship a God of Peace, I want to live in a society that gives less easy access to weapons, especially those such as assault weapons that can cause widespread death and destruction. What's more, those who might be inclined to violent actions should not have access to guns at all. Therefore, I ask you to focus on two things: 1. Make gun ownership a more responsible process with universal background checks no matter where the gun is purchased. 2. Reinstate a vigorous ban on assault weapons. We must make services that determine and treat mental illness more accessible to all who need them. Mental illness must no longer be hidden, but should be something openly discussed so that,those who suffer receive the help they need. Catholic Charities invites the public to help serve the needy this year Shoppers can add a new di- mension to their holidays and contribute to the needs of neigh- bors, too. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington has many ways local businesses as well as friends and family can partner with it to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. ."Many of our neighbors con- tinue to struggle as a result of the sluggish economic environ- eent," said Richelle A. Vible, ex- Utive director. "Some have also faced challenges after Hurricane Sandy, from suffering damage to homes or lost wages because of work closures. During this holi- day season, it's natural for us to want to help those who may not be able to celebrate." Businesses, organizations and individuals can consider holding an item drive that will help one or more of Catholic Charities' programs. Some ideas for drives include: diapers, baby food, per- sonal items like socks and under- wear, shoes, coats, gently used or new clothing, costume jewelry for women interviewing for jobs, purses, hygiene items, household items, blankets, towels, cleaning items, office furniture, working appliances, computers and sup- plies, and nonperishable foods. Preowned goods should be clean and in good repair or work- ing order. In Sussex and Kent counties, donors can bring their gifts to any of the following Catholic Charities locations and receive a tax deduction receipt: Catholic Charities Kent County, 2099 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 302- 674-1600; Catholic Charities Sus- sex County, 406 S. Bedford St., Suite 9, Georgetown, 302-856- 9578; and Casa San Francisco, 127 Broad St., Mikon, 302-684-8694. Catholic Charities can pick up large donations of goods. To make arrangements for pickup, contact the Thrift Center at 302- 764-2717. Organizations or indi- viduals can also make cash dona- tions. To do so online, visit Catholic Charities' secure dona- tion site, www.cdow.org/ccdona- tion.html. Choose any program as the designated ministry. Checks can be mailed to the main office address, 2601 W. 4th St., Wilmington, DE 19805. Note any designation on the memo line of the check. Catholic Chari- ties will also gladly accept gift cards in order to purchase need- ed goods for its clients. Catholic Charities, serving those in need for over 180 years, offers a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for chil- dren, assist the disadvantaged and build human relationships throughout the Diocese of Wilm- ington, which encompasses Delaware and the Eastem Shore of Maryland.