Rainbow candles glowed for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting during a tear-filled vigil at the Mayflower Congregational Church Monday.
Amanda Snipes, Outer Oklahoma City Director of Advocacy for Freedom Oklahoma, was the first speaker that evening. She said those who attended were not only there for the victims, but themselves and the LGBT community. “We will hold [the victims] in the presence of love, and we will honor them with action as we leave this place,” she said.
Reverend Lori Walke led a prayer for the 49 Orlando victims. “Gracious God, we have experienced a death in the family, 49 to be exact,” she said. “Forty nine of your children were killed last year, targeted because of their sexuality, and this is the only thing we know to do: to come together to grieve, to remember, and to comfort one another.”
Walke said people came to the vigil for resolve for themselves, or to become better allies. “All of us resolve to be love. Firm, resilient, life-affirming love,” she said.
Walke said the Mayflower Congregational Church is a more progressive United Church of Christ. The church is open to all people, regardless of their sex, religion or gender.
“That’s not what we focus on,” she said. “You show up, and you’re loved here. You’re part of the family, and we’ve tried to make sure that people know that a church like this exists.”
Walke said she wants to dispel the idea that LGBT people are not welcome at church. She urged Oklahomans not to settle for a church that wouldn’t recognize them as a full person.
Snipes presented a letter from Nadine Smith of Equality Florida.
“You weren’t at Pulse, you live hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles away, you donated to the victims’ fund, and you attended the vigils,” Pensight recited. “You are sending thoughts, love, and prayers to the families of those killed, to those wounded, and to those who escaped with injuries.”
Snipes continued reading Smith’s words of reassurance: “I just wanted to say that you guys can grieve for yourselves too.”
Walke said she would like for people to challenge faith leaders to stand up against racial and anti-LGBT violence, to lead a community dialogue, or to ask schools to create anti-bullying programs. She also encouraged people who would like to know how else they can fight bigotry to go to HonorThemWithAction.org.
Walke lit six rainbow candles at the front of the church in remembrance of the night of the Pulse attack, when people flocked to Mayflower church for guidance.
“We know that a rainbow can only exist where there is light, so help us shine, Holy One. All through the day, all through the night,” she said.