EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – The Eastchester Community Church on Sunday joined the outpouring of grief and sympathy from people all over the country in support of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Rev. Eric J. Hall unveiled an outdoor memorial garden on Sunday morning on the church’s front lawn that consisted of signs for every victim, each printed with a heart, a victim’s name and an attached plush reindeer.
“On Friday, the reaction of the families, parents (of students at the church’s preschool, Lincoln Academy) was really very strong, in the sense that there’s obviously concern, there was a lot of fear, there was a lot of questions,” said Hall as he helped erect the signs before Sunday morning services. “I just thought that the families in Connecticut, they’re us, and we’re them.”
Hall and his wife, Donna, who operates Lincoln Academy, also noted that the shooting “felt very real” to them as parents of a 6-year-old son, who is the same age as most of Friday’s victims.
Twenty-eight people, including 20 small children, were killed Friday at the hand of a shooter identified by police as Adam Lanza.
The Sunday service focused on the shooting and people’s emotional reactions to it. In his sermon, Hall noted that the community could collectively “sit back and become victims,” or “channel love and compassion” in an effort for good.
After the service, the congregation formally dedicated the garden and several members left their own messages of sympathy.
“It’s just such a terribly sad, sad thing, and it could happen anywhere,” said congregation member Robin Roberts. “And you just feel so sorry for the people, everyone that’s affected.”
All are welcome and encouraged to visit the memorial garden, which will be open indefinitely, in front of the Eastchester Community Church at 11 Woodlot Road.
Flyers with advice on how to explain the tragedy to children are available at Lincoln Academy at the same address. Hall is also available to concerned members of the community; he can be reached by phone at 646-479-6550.