As demolition began on Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, the leaders of Walnut Hill Community Church asked Christians everywhere to pray for their community as it approaches the first anniversary of the shootings in which Adam Lanza killed his mother at home before going on to shoot a further twenty children and six adults. Lanza 20, committed suicide as police arrived.
Walnut Hill, whose senior pastor is Clive Calver, former Director of the UK Evangelical Alliance, has been at the forefront of the healing process ever since he has one of the first to arrive on the scene.
Speaking on behalf of Walnut Hill, Adam DePasquale, Pastor of Regional Development said: "With less than two months until the one year anniversary of the shooting in Sandy Hook, many parents, students, first responders and residents are hurting as the community prepares to remember the young children and adults who were murdered last year.
"We have certainly seen our Lord at work over this past year. We have had the privilege of helping individuals, families and first responders through prayer, Bible studies, support groups and professional counselling.
"Several special events were held this past year and we estimate that some 7000 people came through the church doors and clearly heard the gospel message. A few weeks ago, it was incredible to join with five other churches and come together to pray and worship at the Sandy Hook Fire Station (right next to the elementary school).
"While many wonderful things are taking place, it is impossible to ignore the very real hurt and pain that continually surfaces in the community. Every time another shooting or tragedy takes place, our community grieves. Loud noises bring fear to people as they wonder whether they are in danger. Media and politics keeps the story alive and regularly interferes with establishing a 'new normal'."
And as the one year anniversary approaches, many parents grieve with the families who lost children and painfully ask the question, "Why was my child spared?" All of these things point to the real need for prayer and the reality that the Christ of Christmas was more than a baby and in fact the Saviour of the world, the Saviour of Sandy Hook. May His presence and the ministry of His Church be a source of great comfort, hope and peace, amen.
The demolition of Sandy Hook School will continue, piece by piece, and is expected to be completed by the first anniversary of the shootings. Contractors are being asked to destroy materials to eliminate nearly every trace of the building and it is hoped that a new school will be open for the school year 2016 to 2017.
Specific prayer requests will be found here