As the sun set behind her, nearly 100 mourners lit candles and listened quietly as Gretchen Viney read aloud the names of 49 people killed in a mass shooting early Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida.
Viney, leader of the First Congressional UCC church in Baraboo, was joined by other members of the local clergy Wednesday during a memorial service held outside First United Methodist Church.
Melodies of “Amazing Grace” filled the air with the opening music for the outdoor vigil.
First United Methodist Church pastor Marianne Cotter said it was important for people to seek out God’s guidance in times of tragedy.
“This was a horrible thing but God is bigger than that,” Cotter said.
The service was called to memorialize those killed at an Orlando gay nightclub after Omar Mateen opened fire inside. Mateen eventually was killed in a firefight with police.
As the candle lighting made its way through the crowd, people embraced amid tears.
Father Jay Poster of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church shared Biblical readings, prayers and hymns.
Retired Methodist pastor Steve Getsinger said it was important to “come together, to grieve together and to connect with God together” in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. History.
Cotter said it was important for the gathered clergy “to leave the people with a sense of hope.”
Jesse Randall attended the memorial service.
“I feel sorrow and compassion for the families and victims of the senseless tragedy,” he said. “With God all things are possible, including healings from such a tragic event.”