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Sandy Hook Elementary School

The memorials are gone. The traffic flows as normal. The media trucks have disappeared and the oily stink of their diesel generators has lifted from Sandy Hook village. School has started again, albeit six miles away instead of up the hill. And the answer to the question “where are you from?” has been irrevocably changed from casual chat to a lump-in-your-throat pain.

Three weeks after the tragedy, the rest of the world appears to have moved on: fiscal cliffs and New Year’s resolutions, jobs numbers and whatever new headline grabs the attention of media. So while from outward appearances things are “normal,” for us in Sandy Hook, it is a “new normal.” There is the haunting reality that things will never be the same. There are twenty children who will never grow up, six adults who gave their lives for the children, and a family who will be branded forever as “the shooter’s.”

But out of that darkness, we saw a great light. Not only the message that God is with us, even “through the valley of the shadow of death,” but also that there is “light in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.” Advent expectations gave way to Christmas light; God’s word and the world were hand-in-hand. The Bishop and District Superintendent came. UMCOR and UMCOM were here. A flame from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in Israel arrived as a visible reminder of hope and faith. And then the cards and letters and gifts started; our social media was flooded and the telephones did not stop ringing. Your outpouring of love and care supported us in our moment of need, and we are deeply grateful.

Our church pulled together in ways that could only be described as Spirit-filled. Trustees and our Pre-school Board greeted visitors at the door and our Stephen Ministers listened to those who came to cry and pray. Others coordinated with the Red Cross and the media who camped out in our parking lot. When they got tired, sister churches provided help. Our members answered the phones, opened mail and cataloged gifts. Others sat in homes during funerals and others made meals and made sure we were fed. It was amazing grace to see the Body of Christ come together in a crisis.

Again, thank you all so much for your support; it has carried us through the darkness. Please continue to hold us in prayer.

Our Recovery Implies NEXT STEPS:

Hope and healing are long-term goals. One consistent response we have heard from you and the world is: “What can we do to help?” What can we do that will become a lasting legacy to those who lost their lives on December 14, 2012?

The bears and angels and flowers have been transformed into a compost destined for the memorial that will be built for them. So what do we do before this tragedy fades from the national psyche . . . until the next tragedy? Consider at least two things.

  • You personally and institutionally address the larger cause of social justice that includes access to mental health resources, diminishing gun violence and lowering the tolerance of violence in our society.

  • Our prayer in the New Year is that God will rekindle our United Methodist membership vows for prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. We ask that you find some way to honor a child of your congregation or community within those vows.  We have established this page on our website for you to let us know what you did and that we can share with the world. These notes will comfort us in our mourning and be an ongoing memorial to our little ones. Please let us know what you’ve done by posting a response below.

Please Leave a Response below (scroll way down):

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Sandy Hook Elementary School

  • Mark Cassel

    My wife is a first grade teacher. When I first learned of the tragedy, all I could think of is her trying to hide little scared children in the bathroom in her classroom area. We felt very personally connected to your loss, even though we had never met any of us.

    Besides my wife Cindy being a teacher, her mother was an elementary teacher, my sister is a high school teacher and my mother was an aide and attendance secretary at a middle school. We place great value in our family on the importance of public education. Therefore, we decided to set up a Sandy Hook Scholarship for a graduating senior in my wife’s school district that plans to go into elementary or secondary education. When the scholarship is presented for the second time in May at the annual senior awards event, we will again lift of the memory of those fine educators and those wonderful children.

    We have also set up a pilot backpack program in my wife’s school for needy elementary children who don’t have enough food on the weekends. The Lord has blessed us so much!

  • Rev. Tom & Amy Beveridge

    Thoughts and prayers — then, now, always.

    Blessings!
    TandA Beveridge

  • As the 6 month anniversary of the tragedy approaches this week, please know that we of First UMC, Waynesville, NC, continue to keep you and the families who have lost so much in our thoughts and prayers. We are in Bibletimes Marketplace this week, a wonderful learning environment for our children and the adults who volunteer with them. All children should have that opportunity.
    I made a statement from the pulpit in December promising to write you, and I do so now, realizing that often condolences are expressed early on, but then forgotten. I also pledged to write more letters and sign more petitions calling for gun control, and I have done so, as I know many of our congregants have.
    We have not forgotten you and continue to uphold you in prayer, even as we pray for peace for all.

  • jcstumbo

    “Our pastor at the Hindman UMC in Hindman, Ky. asked each of us to give Jesus a gift in 2013. My gift to Him is to spend the 26th of each month doing acts of kindness to those who cannot return it. I am doing this in memory of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary.”

    (Message sent by jcstumbo to the Editor of The Vision, who wanted NUMC to know about this great idea)

  • Our UMW Circle at First United Methodist of Pineville, LA, after a program about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School pulled from your website, decided to do two things to honor your children. First, we donated $200 for youth scholarships to the summer Bigstuf discipleship camp held yearly in Panama City, Florida. Secondly, we decided to surprise our 60 School Resource Officers with a small Treat Bag, thanking them for protecting our children, teachers and schools here in Rapides Parish. We delivered them personally last Friday. These men and women were REALLY surprised and touched. We are sending you a print copy of this by snaiil mail. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you in the Newtown community. May God bless and keep you. The Dianne Bolton Circle

  • Ted L Wampler

    My daughter Mary Lee was killed in an automobile accident in Oct 1995. Although devote Christians, my wife and I needed some additional help beyond the church with our grief. We were introduced to a group called The Compassionate Friends that minister to parents that have lost children through death. We are heavily involved in The Hope Chapter in Knoxville, TN. I have written a book called Will Our Tears Forever Flow? that describs the intense grief that follows the death of a child. I am mailing a copy to the parents of each of the children that lost their life at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am also sending a personal invitation to attend The Compassionate Friends in your area. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
    Ted L Wampler

  • Deb Clifford

    I decided I needed to start with myself. I vowed to refrain from filling my time with television shows that feature violence. I have since stopped watching all crime, police drama, investigation shows that feature gruesome deaths and violence that desensitize our psyche and our souls to the true nature of death and violence. If I turn on the TV now, I choose to view nature shows, family dramas, historical dramas and uplifting stories. PBS is my new friend. Next I decided to take my message outward. I had an opportunity, as part of a work offsite, to share a video or story that inspired me. I read aloud to the participants the letter of hope and light in the darkness sent by Rev. Mel. I told of how the many spirit-filled responses and love from tragedy inspire me. Finally, I will heed Rev. Mel’s words and work in ways that support social justice and peace. Prayers continue…..

  • Our church has responded to your request to honor the children of Newtown by honoring the children of our town. We are collecting small stuffed animals to be distributed to FISH who runs both the local Food Bank and Homeless Shelter. In recent years, more familes with children are living in our local shelter and the Stuffed Animals will be distributed to comfort these youngsters. Others will be given to teh Police Dept to use for chilren they encounter. Before we send the ‘stuffies’ off, we will bless them and our kids will hug love into them.

  • A donation has been made to a local not-for-profit day care to provide tuition for children from low income families.
    Another gift went to the swim program to provide scholarships for swim lessons; they just might save the life of a child.

  • Jancy Walter

    As I watched the anguish on the faces I saw on television I cried and prayed and was led to ask the church to which I belong to find a tangible expression of our prayers and concern. We specifically wanted to find something to soothe the men whose hearts are broken and some way to comfort the EMS people who gave aid in such horrible circumstances.
    The answer to my prayer was to send handkerchiefs to dry the tears and to be carried in a pocket as a close reminder of the care and concern we all have for those affected.

    The handkerchiefs bear a message of “Prayers are with you” and a picture of hands held in prayer; “Hold close your memories” and a picture of a tree with hearts symbolizing it’s fruit; “Hope for a brighter tomorrow” with a picture of a heart and greenery.

    I didn’t know where to best send these until I found your website and read of your ministry. I feel you will know best how to distribute our gift of love and prayer from Community Presbyterian Church in Lingle, Wyoming.

  • Cesie Delve Scheuermann

    We donated money to No More Malaria in memory of the Sandy Hook children. We were unable to protect those dear children at Sandy Hook, but perhaps we can somehow save others through the purchase of some mosquito nets.

  • Dj's Mom

    In the quiet, all of Newtown continues to fill my mind, unsettling my heart and soul. I pray for all of us that have to deal with these horrific events. I ask God to draw me closer, because I am so afraid and so angry…even with him. I am not over it, even though the world has moved on…I will never be over it, I hope.

    In the unsettling of my being, I love more. I hug children, lots of children, as my son attends kindergarten in a school not much differant than Sandy Hook or any other elementary school.

    I am searching in a world full of hatred, even in my own Christian religion…shame on the WBC….for the Prince of Peace. I can no longer tolerate the hate mongers, and in my searching, I have come home again to my own Methodist roots!

    I love everyone, all my friends, gay and straight, Hindu and jew…black, brown and white…and in this beautiful church, I not only have permission, but am encouraged to do so.

    I feel vulnerable, and have asked God…what can I do? I am only one little struggling mother myself, how can I help the world overcome such big problems? He listens, and always answers, and has guided me to join the Methodist Women, because we ARE stronger when we are together and lift each other up. Our voices can be heard when there are many together.

    And when the pastor closes with the words, go in peace into the world…I hear them, possibly for the first time in my life, and I do my best to do just that!

    I will continue to pray for this community, and if God shows me any possible way that I can help, I will gladly do so, but for now, all that I can do is not forget!

  • Pastor Maryann Long

    We have not in anyway left behind the needs for prayer and hope in Newton as other media issues come to focus. Our town is small and close knit, and our congregation is faithful to pray for many ongoing needs. We have a ministry of Prayer Shawls that have been sent all over the country for all sorts of needs: illness, grief, major life changes, weddings, birth of babies. We would very much like to send as some to Newton, but refrained from doing so in the wake of so much outpouring of gifts. If these would be helpful please contact me with the number you would like to receive. All names and/or groups receiving shawls (i.e. the local cancer center) are recorded in a book that the prayer team and individuals use as a resource for on going prayer. Praying for all who minister and receive ministry.

  • On behalf of the the Children at Trinity UMC in Grand Rapids, who have cried with you, and questioned with you, and have expressed their thoughts in cards and pictures….we will remain with you in prayer and thought. God has given us the opportunity to be in community with you….though it seems so tragic a way….we lift up our love …..
    Your partners on the journey…..
    Our parents and teachers in the our congregation have shared their many thoughts about this tragedy….we have set up a 5 Week Series on Confident Parenting to help them with many of the issues surrounding parenting and dealing with the many emotions it entails..
    We also had a special Prayer Circle for children to ask questions and lift up their prayers. Our Ass’t Pastors helped the children to process the tragedy and comfort them. This was powerful for them but also their parents.
    We are purchasing new books for our children’s library that can help families deal with these kinds of tragedies and help them to see God through it all.
    Blessings to you all…..

    Nichea Ver Veer Guy
    Director of Children and Family Ministries
    Trinity UMC
    1100 Lake Dr. SE
    Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

  • Donna Charnstrom

    On Sunday, Dec. 16, our minister at Union United Methodist Church in Brazil, IN, opened Sunday worship with a special service that he created. The sanctuary was in dim light and the congregation was asked to enter in silence and wait in silent contemplation. Then all of the children in the congregation, K through college age, entered the sanctuary and brought the light of Christ to the alter and lit the candles. They stood on the alter as our minister read verses of scripture regarding seeking God in the darkness, peace and mercy. Then the children lit candles and brought them down to the church members, each of whom held an unlit candle. The light spread throughout the sanctuary and the congregation stood, holding lighted candles high, and sang “O Come All Ye Faithful.” We continue to remember you all in our prayers.

  • I made the #sandyhookpromise (http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/mission or @sandyhook on twitter) to help #Newtown find common sense solutions to prevent similar tragedies. Join me: http://www.causes.com/causes/810193-sandy-hook-promise

  • Pastor Marg Perelli

    As a Children’s Pastor and licensed local pastor, I have so felt the loss of these young lives and the admiration for the adults who put their children before their own lives. That is Emmanuel, God with us and evidence that His Presence was at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I personally have returned as a volunteer reader at a local “Head Start” program. My present charge has so few children, and I need to feel I am once again encouraging and loving on these little lambs. May God continue to strengthen, encourage and comfort all in your community. You will never be forgotten. Marg

  • […] We also ask that you let us know what you’ve done, so that we can share with the world.  Your notes will comfort us in our mourning and be an ongoing memorial to our little ones. To post a response, please visit the Newtown United Methodist Church website at http://numc.us/she/. […]

  • Rev. Michael Williams

    My church, Cedar Grove United Methodist in Winfall NC has collected some funds specifically to help the victims with the unexpected costs they may have endured and to help assist them and their mental health specialists. Is there a specific fund that we can contribute to to help in this area? Sustaining prayers lifted up for the short and long term.

  • Andy Bryan

    Let there be peace. You are in our prayers in Springfield, Missouri.

  • On Sunday, Dec 16 we reoriented our worship services to focus on commemoration of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary. I preached on gun violence and our congregation signed petitions to our congressional delegation and Pres. Obama calling for gun control legislation. Then we worked with interfaith religious leaders to call on our legislature to ban assault-style weapons, high capacity magazine clips, etc. This week we are joining with many churches and civic organizations through our region in a http://www.standupwa.org march and rally to call for sensible gun control legislation. Throughout all these efforts we have kept your congregation and your community in our prayers. May God richly bless you, now and always.

  • I attended a concert the after the shootings and made a little altar with candles on it and some greenery and a little sign that said “for the innocent children” and the adults.
    I put it by the front door of the concert hall.
    The next morning I took it to my church, Wallingford UMC in Seattle where we prayed for you.

    You are in our prayers.

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