Six months to the day of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a church in Altoona will hold a community-wide service of prayer and remembrance.
Faith United Church of Christ, 711 Seventh St., will hold a service at 6 p.m. June 14 to remember the 20 children and six adults who lost their lives on Dec. 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered the school and began a shooting spree.
The Rev. John Emig, pastor of Faith UCC, said the need to remember the families in prayer came to him one day when he was driving. He then consulted with several pastors who encouraged him to hold the service.
Emig said he also watched "Moyers & company" on TV when Bill Moyers interviewed Francine and David Wheeler, whose son, Benjamin, 6, was a victim. They were discussing the Sandy Hook Promise, a nationwide group to help families heal and to campaign against gun violence.
Emig said Moyers asked them: How do you want us to get to what you want?
According to the transcript, Wheeler responded: "Don't stop talking about it among yourselves, among your family, among your community. Whether that's your community of faith or your town or your city or your state, on the national stage. Do not think that this problem will go away. Because it won't."
The service is a way to honor that request.
Emig said the names of those who lost their lives that day will be lifted up along with the tolling of a bell for each victim.
Denis Navarro, a licensed psychologist in the Behavior Health Unit at Altoona Regional, will speak.
He said Navarro will talk about how people seek medical attention for a physical problem, but don't always seek help for an emotional wound.
"He will help us in our thinking," Emig said.
Emig said churches in the Altoona area have been invited to the service, and he hopes another church decides to hold a service in six months.