(December 5, 2013: This story has been updated to include information from Al Hedaya Islamic Center.)
(December 9: This story has also been updated to reflect that St John’s Episcopal Church is not participating in an event at Newtown United Methdoist Church. St John's is hosting its own event on December 14.)
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Members of Newtown Clergy Association have announced plans for the town’s faith communities to offer services and support for residents in upcoming weeks, as the first anniversary of 12/14 approaches.
“While our various faith communities are diverse in faith and practice, we want you to know that our common compassion unites us in our commitment to minister faithfully to all of Newtown,” members of the group said this week via a press release.
“Because any single event on the Anniversary of December 14th would create challenges on multiple levels, we have decided that it would be best to offer a variety of opportunities for our beloved Newtown community to come together: to remember and honor those we have lost, to support all who are grieving, and to steady one another on our journey together,” they continued. “We pray that one or some may provide a way for many of you to come together for comfort, support and encouragement.
“Please also know that all us are available and committed to assist you as best we are able if you have specific individual needs or concerns.”
Following is a list of the services and events that the association’s faith communities have planned:
Al Hedaya Islamic Center, 115 Mt Pleasant Road: Friday, December 13, 1 pm, a congregational prayer for unity, peace and hope towards a better tomorrow.
Then on Saturday, December 14, from 2 to 4:30 pm, the center will offer aromatic teas for the soul, henna for all ages, and arts and crafts for the children.
Saturday’s time will be “a time for reflection and healing … a warm welcome for all,” said Chaplain Cindy Elhag.
Both events are open to the public courtesy of the congregation. For more information call 203-426-0589.
Christ the King Lutheran Church, 85 Mt Pleasant Road: Saturday, December 14, at 9:20 am, Memorial Prayer Service and Comfort Dog Drop-In.
On the one year remembrance of the Sandy Hook School shootings, Christ the King will hold a simple memorial prayer service. All are invited to attend and are asked to be at the church by 9:20 am. A brief prayer service will begin immediately afterwards.
After the service’s completion, several of the Lutheran Church Charities comfort dogs (including Christ the King’s own Maggie, and Addie from Immanuel Lutheran in Danbury) will be available in the Fellowship Hall for anyone within the community who can benefit from that service. This drop-in time will be held until noon. All are invited and the church will be kept a media-free property.
For more information call 203-426-6300.
Congregation Adath Israel, 115 Huntingtown Road: Friday, December 7, at 9:30 am, Regular Sabbath Saturday morning service followed by a Traditional Yizkor Memorial Service which will commence at about 11 am and will include traditional liturgy and memorial readings.
Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray will assist Rabbi Shaul Praver in the Service. The service is being presented on December 7 rather than on the 14th because the temple is following the Hebrew date of the anniversary.
On Saturday, December 14, at 3 pm, Congregation Adath Israel will offer a time for contemplation and commemoration with readings and quiet music.
For more information call 203-426-5188.
Faith at Newtown, 4 Riverside Road: December 14 at 10 am, Prayer Service.
For more information, call 203-364-1448 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newtown Christian Church, 210 Sugar Street: December 14 at 5 pm, a Candlelight Vigil will honor those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Weather permitting, the service will be held outdoors.
For more information, call 203-426-6189.
Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street: December 14 at 9 am, Service of Prayer and Reflection with The Newtown Youth Voices Choir.
NCC will be joined by Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel as well as other faith leaders from the Connecticut United Church of Christ (CT-UCC) Conference and surrounding communities who have supported our leaders and our community on our journey this past year. Immediately following our gathering there will be a time for fellowship (including Fidelco Dogs) and refreshments in The Great Room.
The sanctuary will be open for individual reflection and prayer all day.
For more information, call 203-426-9024.
Newtown United Methodist Church and The Baha’i Community of Newtown, at NUMC, 92 Church Hill Road: December 14 at 9 am.
These two communities will share a collaborative worship service hosted by the Methodist Church.
The Sanctuary will remain open until 5 pm for individual prayer, reflection, and support.
For more information call 203-426-9998.
St John’s Episcopal Church, 5 Washington Avenue: December 14 at 5 pm, a memorial service.
St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, 46 Church Hill Road: December 14 at 9:30 am, Mass with The Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport.
His Excellence will be the main celebrant and homilist. The Bells of Consolation, part of The Bells of Remembrance Project, will be tolled prior to the service. Work on The Bells of Consolation began in the early weeks of January in response to 12/14. The mounted bells, ranging in size from 750 pounds to 3,500 pounds, will be brought to St Rose as part of the first anniversary memorials for the children, teachers and staff who were killed on December 14, 2012.
Following Mass, a permanent memorial will be dedicated.
In addition, at 6:30 pm St Rose will present its Annual Living Nativity on the grounds by the school.
At 7:30 pm, a Candlelight Prayer service and dedication of the Angel of Hope statue, recently installed in front of Saint Rose School, will take place.
For more information call 203-426-1014.
Trinity Episcopal Church, 34 Main Street: December 14 at 9 am. Service to include prayer, music, silence, Eucharist, and the lighting of candles for remembrance and comfort.
The service will be followed by a potluck breakfast together with comfort dogs, music, and art therapies for children and youth.
The church will be open all day for prayer.
A prayer vigil will be ongoing in the chapel at front of church, from 8 pm Saturday until 8 am Sunday.
On Sunday, December 15, Trinity will celebrate Gaudete Sunday with Bishop Laura Ahrens during its worship services.
For more information call 203-426-9070.