Prayer vigil for Sandy Hook victims

AP
Candles with the names of shooting victims written on them sit at a memorial near Sandy Hook Elementary School

US President Barack Obama offered words of comfort from the Bible at a prayer vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The interfaith prayer vigil was held on Sunday evening in Newtown, Connecticut, where last week 20-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children at the Sandy Hook elementary school. Six adults were also killed in the rampage.

Obama began his speech with quotes from 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, which tell us not to lose heart and to take comfort from knowing that if our earthly tent is destroyed there is an eternal house in heaven.

Earlier in the day, Obama spent time with victims' families.

He told the community: "Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.

"You've loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God's grace, that love will see you through."

The children killed were all first graders aged six and seven. They included a six-year-old British boy, Dylan Hockley, who moved with his family to Connecticut from Hampshire in January last year.

The President read from Matthew 19:14, saying: "'Let the little children come to me,' Jesus said, 'and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'

"Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home."

He added: "For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we've lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America."

Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have been sent to offer comfort and pastoral care to the shocked community. Some of the chaplains were re-deployed from the New York area, where they were still serving following Hurricane Sandy.

"It's mostly a ministry of presence," chaplain Becca Dowling said. "There's a lot of silent prayers going out. It's not a ministry of a lot of words."

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