In Peterborough, a moment to grieve for Newtown

Union Leader Correspondent
December 20. 2012 8:40PM

The Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church opened its door Thursday night for a vigil for the Newtown, Conn., victims. 
PETERBOROUGH - Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church gathered together Thursday evening for candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.

A candle was lit for each of the victims, and pastor David Robins read the names of the murdered children and adults. He then asked those gathered to join in reciting prayer from the Book of Jewish Prayer, "We Remember Them."

"At the rising of the sun and at its going down, we remember them. At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them. At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them," he read.

Robins then spoke.

"We are reminded that we cannot always protect who we love and what we love. And because of this we hurt, and we mourn and we grieve and sometimes we grow angry," he said.

The service was short, with only about 25 in attendance.

Church member Sophia Rallis of Peterborough said she had wished the vigil had been held later in the evening so that perhaps more people could have attended.

Rallis, who used to live in neighboring Hancock, said that like most in the area shortly after the Newtown shooting, her thoughts fell on former Hancock Congregational Church minister Matthew Crebbin, who left the Hancock church a few years ago to serve as a pastor at the Newtown Congregational Church.

Crebbin has since been seen on the news ministering at vigils in Newtown.

"I'm just really glad I came and I cried, which is really good because I haven't been able to," Rallis said. "And reading the names ... it does that, just overwhelming. . This is devastating."

Susie Spikol of Hancock came with her husband and three children, ages 12, 10 and 1.

"It was important for us to have everybody come so they could understand how deeply a community even far from Connecticut can feel impacted by something like this. And they felt sad about it. We thought it would be a good way for them to come together and share in some sadness," Spikol said.

Robins said he wanted to hold the vigil for himself, church members with connections to Newtown, and to begin praying and working for troubled young men.

"My wife was a public school teacher. ... Early in her career she was in a school that had a lockdown because of an armed parent. .It just brought back to me how scared I felt that time," Robins said.

Many church members have family and friends living in or around Newtown, he said.

"One church member went to high school with the psychologist who was killed," Robins said.

Another church member has a nephew living in Newtown, who he hasn't been able to reach by phone "and he's just scared to death."

Thirdly, Robins said that in the wake Newtown and other recent similar tragedies that have involved young men hurting and killing women and children, society needs to look inward.

Men need to step up and teach boys and young men about love and compassion, steering them away from hate and violence, he said.

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Meghan Pierce may be reached at

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