What: Interfaith service for Orlando shooting victimsWhere: Peterborough Unitarian Universalist ChurchWhen: Tonight, June 16, at 7:30 p.m.Who: The PUUC, All Saint’s Church, First Church in Jaffrey are participating. All are welcome.Contact: PUUC at 924-62
A rainbow flag flies over the entrance to the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist church.
“We’ve taken some heat for hanging a rainbow flag in the past,” said the Rev. Shayna Appel. “People have asked why we need to hang one.” The shooting in Orlando, she said, is why.
Appel, along with All Saint’s Church Rector Jaimie Hamilton, spoke to the Ledger-Transcript while in a meeting to organize an interfaith service to honor the 49 killed and 53 injured in the mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday.
The shooter, Omar Mateen, 29, of Orlando, Florida, was killed by police after taking hostages and barricading himself in the nightclub following the shooting.
“When I first heard the news, I think my first response was shock, and then an incredible sadness,” said Appel, who is a member of the LGBT community.
“And I don’t think I’ve been able to move on from that yet. I’m just in a space where I am so sad.”
Hamilton said that in the aftermath of the shooting, she was contacted by her Bishop, who encouraged All Saint’s Church to work with other ministries in the area to hold interfaith vigils or services. When Appel called her looking to do the same, the two churches, as well as the First Church in Jaffrey, quickly bound together to organize a service, to be held tonight (Thursday) at 7:30 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough.
“All are welcomed and encouraged to come and weep together, and renew our commitment to stand together,” said Appel.
Appel and Hamilton said it is important to view the shooting as an act of hate as well as terrorism, both in that it was a gay nightclub that was targeted, and that it was Latin night at the club.
“It becomes very comfortable to compartmentalize this as an ISIS attack, so that we don’t have to face our own prejudices,” said Hamilton.
“It’s important for churches to be part of this conversation, because religion has been a part of fanning some of those flames,” said Appel. And, she added, as there are not many exclusively LGBT spaces in the Monadnock area, it is important to create a space for people to mourn safely.
“I think that’s why this is striking so deep for so many people,” said Hamilton. “It reminds us of all the ways people have been marginalized.”
“With the approval of marriage equality, the gay community has been much more integrated. While I think it’s lovely that I can go to the Waterhouse with my wife and not get strange looks, we are losing some of those other spaces, and then where do they go to when things like this happen? Hopefully, you’re able to go to your church, but not all churches are welcoming to the gay community,” said Appel. “This is why we fly the flag.”
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.