GEESEYTOWN - Members of the small community of Geeseytown and surrounding areas gathered Saturday night to remember three community members killed during Friday's shooting rampage.
About 275 people gathered at the Geeseytown Lutheran Church on Route 22 for a community prayer vigil and service to remember Kimberly Scott, Kenneth Lynn and William Rhodes Jr., who died in Friday's incident.
The 75-minute service, which included a series of scripture readings, prayers and well-known hymns such as "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace," concluded with a candlelighting and passing of the peace.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Mourners hug before a community prayer vigil and service for the victims of Friday’s shootings on Saturday evening at Geeseytown Lutheran Church.
About 15 area clergy members attended, and several participated in the service with host Pastor Michael Rhyne.
"Our hearts are broken. This community has experienced a tragedy. To all of those affected by this senseless tragedy, we are thinking of you in our thoughts and prayers and holding you in our hearts," Rhyne said.
Sometimes events like Friday's shootings are difficult to understand, he said.
"We can't offer an answer. Nothing will make this tragedy make sense. We are sorry this senseless tragedy visited upon you. We wish it never had happened and that Christ will hold you. People across the world will pray for you and hold onto you," Rhyne said. "It is hard. It is OK to cry. It is OK to wonder why. Why did this happen? I can only say God gives us the ability to choose. Sometimes people make bad choices."
"You wonder what happened. The peace of the valley has been broken," said the Rev. Greg Harbaugh of Zion Lutheran Church, Hollidaysburg.
Harbaugh said shortly after the shootings, family and community members began to gather at the Geeseytown Fire Hall.
"We gathered and shared the pain, hurt and the loss. For a time we sat and held and cried. We all did the best we could to be together for each other. We shared our faith and prayer with one another, the light did shine in the darkness," Harbaugh said. "We are gathered here again in that light in the midst of the darkness that has come upon us."
The Rev. Elizabeth Hess, chaplain for the Geeseytown Fire Company and former Geeseytown Lutheran Church pastor, offered a special prayer for the community and first responders.
"We want to express our deepest condolences to the families of Kim, Ken and Bill. We also want to gather as a community. It affected the community of Geeseytown," Hess said. "Our first responders were all at the scene doing their jobs. They were neighbors, friends and community members. We want to support them in this time. They had to witness this tragedy first hand."
Harbaugh had another request for those affected by the tragedy.
"I only can hope you who were most affected will be able to find it in your hearts to offer forgiveness for Jeff [Michael, the gunman], but not today."
Mirror Staff writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.