The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 16, 2012

Questions of "why" and "how" fill church in Connecticut town

(Continued)

NEWTOWN, Conn. —

She called for prayers for all of them, for those injured — and for the gunman's family — but most for the families of "those lovely little children now gone from this place and their teachers who shielded them."

"Your tears and questions of faith have moved me," Adams-Shepherd said in a quiet voice. She told of receiving innumerable calls and emails, mentioning in particular a 16-year-old church member who urged all not to lose faith.

"Was God absent from our world on Friday? Indeed not," she said, citing the people all over the world moved by Newtown's ordeal and "flocking to churches and temples and mosques."

The shooting was in prayers at congregations in other U.S. towns. At Wyoming Presbyterian Church in Millburn, N.J., for instance, the congregation stood, held hands and sang the Sunday School staple, "Jesus loves the little children" — and many, weeping, put their arms around their own children, even if they were now adults.

A theologian once counseled "not to give simple solutions to life's tragedies" like the school massacre, Adams-Shepherd noted. "It is inexplicable in human terms."

"None of us will find answers alone to this unfathomable crisis," she said. "Keep loving and praying."

Later in the service, saying "we pray especially for," Adams-Shepherd slowly read the victims' first names, which echoed off the tall gothic arches and stained-glass windows of the small stone church.

Across town at Saint Rose, an overflow crowd of more than 800 people attended the 9 a.m. service.

Lanza and his mother, Nancy, worshipped there, and the son attended the Saint Rose school for a time. Now, the church staff are preparing for eight children's funerals later this week.

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