NEWTOWN, Conn. As Newtown, Conn. continues to mourn and bury victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, churches are offering light in the midst of darkness.
John Revell, pastor of Stamford Baptist Church in nearby Stamford, Conn., described Newtown as under a "heavy, dark cloud."
"The most important thing you can do right now is pray for the people. They are hurting in an unimaginable way," Revell said.
Last Friday (Dec. 14), 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother at home, then drove to the elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.
"It's clear that people are still in the process of trying to come to grips with the magnitude of this tragedy [and] are still in a state of shock," said Revell, who has attended many of the funerals and memorial services as a chaplain to the town's law enforcement officials.
And it is "a very, very tumultuous time here," Revell said. "A lot of people don't realize just how, how active it is around here with the media and the out-of-town guests. The people are just absolutely swamped."
Revell said he is praying that after the media and others are gone, ministry to Newtown residents will continue and that people will have the opportunity to begin considering matters of faith and healing.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has declared Friday (Dec. 21) a statewide day of mourning, asking residents to observe a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. and churches to ring bells 26 times during the observance in honor of each life taken. Malloy has also written letters to all governors in the U.S., asking each state to participate in the observance.
"Let us all come together collectively to mourn the loss of far too many promising lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School," Malloy said in an official statement.
"Though we will never know the full measure of sorrow experienced by these families, we can let them know that we stand with them during this difficult time."
More funerals, wakes ahead for Newtown