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Community remembers lives lost in Sandy Hook shooting

Below is the article published in today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


During a sermon Wednesday night, on the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Rev. Jared Cramer’s 6-year-old daughter ran up to him at the podium, cellphone in hand.


“Excuse me,” said the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, smiling before turning around to his daughter and helping her find what she needed – a game or video to keep her entertained – on the phone, and she trotted away.


Seconds later, Cramer continued his emotional sermon on the 26 people who were killed in the 2012 massacre, 20 of whom were his daughter’s age.


“When I was working on the sermon, I was thinking how very real the danger is that my own daughter lives in,” he said. “There’s no way we can keep everyone safe, of course – but there are simple things we can do that no one disagrees about. But the way our system is set up, it makes impossible for real change to happen sometimes.”


Cramer touched on the topic of politics during his sermon, mentioning that there have been 189 more school shootings since the one at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.


A handful of people scattered throughout the pews of St. John’s Episcopal Church bowed their heads in prayer as Cramer read the names and age of each of the people who were killed at the school, many of whom were just 6 years old.


The offerings collected during Wednesday night’s remembrance Mass – also called a Requiem Eucharist, Rite II – will all be donated to Sandy Hook Promise, Cramer said, a national nonprofit working to prevent gun violence.


Wednesday’s event was planned by the Grand Haven church’s Gun Violence Prevention Team.


“We do have those deeper conversations about the stuff that is a little more difficult and that people do disagree on, particularly the role of mental health,” Cramer said. “There’s been bipartisan work in mental health, but now a lot of that’s being undone by current political movements, particularly the Republican Party right here in Ottawa County, where we’re having people who are advocating to get mental health out of schools.


“And after all we’ve done to try to help with that, to go backwards, is really unfortunate,” he added.

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