Rev. Heather Leslie Hammer
Prayer Vigil for Victims of Gun Tragedies December 9 at 7:00 p.m. a prayer vigil at Lynnewood United Methodist Church, Pleasanton, was attended by over 150 people, standing in solidarity with individuals of all faiths against gun violence. The event was sponsored by the Livermore-Pleasanton Interfaith Clergy Council, and people of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Islamic faiths attended. Rev. Heather Leslie Hammer of Lynnewood UMC spoke prayers from all world faith traditions, read a list of 25 gun tragedies that have occurred since the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, CO in 1999, and led the gathered community in prayer and song. The event was initiated by a resident of Pleasanton who called the church, claiming that "we should do something to remember Sandy Hook [Newtown, CT] on its third anniversary." The next day the Interfaith Council endorsed the candlelight vigil, and the following day the shooting in San Bernadino occurred. "The timing was right. People needed this," Hammer said. Participants estimated that more than half of the attendees were Muslim. People greeted one another before and after the half-hour service. The Muslims from the Muslim Community Center East Bay and the San Ramon Islamic Center shared their gratitude to get to know people in the community at a time when Muslims are targeted by many Americans. People spoke of the power of standing shoulder to shoulder, holding candles in prayer for the healing of the world. The invitation to attend the Prayer Vigil went out by email, Facebook, faith communities' announcements, and the local newspaper's online calendar.