News - McHenry County

Congregations gather to reach out for solidarity, peace, answers to gun violence

Leaders and congregants from five area churches joined to pray against gun violence

A candle light service capped a peace vigil against gun violence held Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at St. Paul's United Church of Christ. Five area congregations were invited to pray together.

Events such as Tuesday evening’s peace vigil at Crystal Lake’s St. Paul’s United Church of Christ help faith traditions come together, even in times when no crisis occurs, said Rabbi Donna Aaron of the McHenry County Jewish Congregation.

Aaron was one of five such leaders at Crystal Lake UCC, leading the service with recitations and prayers for healing in their communities.

Ministers began planning the vigil in June, said St. Paul Program Director Kelly Akerberg. That was after school shootings at Uvadle, Texas, and a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y, in May, when that she considered suggesting a peace vigil for congregations in Crystal Lake, Akerberg said.

The idea “was brought up in light of some recent violence in our country to bring people together and process their grief and feel hope that we are together as a group,” she said.

The Rev. Lisa Kruse-Safford, of the First Church of Crystal Lake, represented one of five area churches to pray for peace at a vigil held Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at St. Paul's United Church of Christ.

She formatted the vigil after one she attended at the Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ in Oak Lawn, Akerberg said. She wanted a service that would focus on speakers, music and bringing people together, she said.

“We liked the message and the format. They had readers and it was interfaith. We have several different churches joining us tonight for music and a peaceful program,” she said.

They were joined by parishioners and leaders from First Congregational Church, the McHenry County Jewish Congregation, Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, and the First Church of Crystal Lake.

They were the first congregations she reached out to, Akerberg said. She could have invited even more, but was worried the event would get too big.

The Rev. Emily Davis of the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake gave a prayer during the 45-minute ceremony she had spent time writing and thinking about, not using a organized liturgy but speaking from her heart.

“I spent time in my own prayer, in my own broken heart” to ask for God’s help in navigating gun violence, Davis said.

Like Aaron, Davis said these events are important, even if they seem trite and idealistic. She is not praying for God to fix our world, but asking for help to allow humans to fix it, Davis said.

“It is a petition … to be a light in the world,” she said.

About 50 people from the congregation attended and lit candles at the end in prayer,.

“People need to connect to one another and they need to lament and find hope” after tragic events that have happened in the country, said St. Paul’s pastor, the Rev. Greg Lucas. “They can find that hope in their faith, and as a community we can be stronger.”