Prayers for Orlando in Washougal

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church mourned shooting victims in a vigil on Wednesday

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



If You Go

• What: Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church will have a service for the Orlando shooting victims. All are welcome.

• When: 5 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: 12513 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

WASHOUGAL — The Rev. Eliacin Rosario-Cruz and Holly Puckett stood before the pews and read through the list of names. For each one, a note sounded.

Forty-nine notes for the 49 people murdered Saturday night at an Orlando nightclub. Rosario-Cruz and Puckett gave their ages, too; most of those killed were in their 20s or 30s.

Before the Wednesday evening service at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the Rev. Jessie Smith said she had been overwhelmed with emotion after what happened.

“The only thing I think I really know how to do right now is to pray. So I thought others might want to join me,” she said. “I know this community — it’s important for us to gather in times like this.”

About 30 people filed into the church for the vigil. They prayed and sang along with John Lennon’s “Imagine” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

There’s little anyone can say or do to address the grief right now, Smith said at the start of the service, but to pray and be together in solidarity is a start.

“I welcome your prayers as a stand against violence as an expression of religion,” she said. “We’re here because we know with every fiber of our being that what has happened is wrong, that there’s something very broken, that there’s evil at work in the world, and that grief and rage that wells up within us — that’s the goodness speaking out.”

Smith said she worried she wouldn’t be able to keep her composure through the service, but then thought, no, she didn’t want to keep it.

“And I hope you can’t hold it together, either,” she said. “I really hope we can just come to pieces over this one, this time, this round of violence, so that we are different afterwards, so that we go out and act differently. … So we can get motivated to change something.”

Paul and Deborah Anderson read from prayers adapted from the Washington National Cathedral’s Gun Sabbath prayers.

Paul Anderson prayed for peace, and the strength to work for it.

“Create in us such a desire for such a love for our neighbor that we will not be stopped in our efforts to restore our neighborhoods, and our towns, and the dignity of every human people,” he said. “Raise up among us a common desire to redeem all that you have intrusted to us.

“Make us bold for peace.”

Deborah Anderson, his wife, asked God for the grace to reach out and help the suffering and the marginalized.

“Give us the courage to be present to those who live in isolation. To comfort those whom no one comforts. To see those whose pain we would rather not see,” she said.

Challenge us when we seek a “shallow justice,” Paul Anderson said, and give courage to those working against gun violence, religious strife, racism and crimes against sexual minorities.

Before reading off the names, Puckett, who used to live in Orlando, read a prayer from the Old South Church in Boston.

“We remember how the hate of the small-minded cost you your life,” she said.

Through tears, she asked the “God of music and light,” “of Latin chant and Latin rhythm,” to comfort and protect the people of Orlando, and all touched by the violence there.

“Bless every person who goes out dancing tonight in defiance of hatred,” she said.

“May every hip, every eyelash, every sequin, burn like a star in defiance of hate.”