The Ilion Council of Churches conducted an interfaith prayer service of healing and remembrance at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church Monday evening.
Father John Bassett, rector of St. Augustine’s, was joined by Deacon Jim Bower of the Church of the Annunciation and Reverend Victor McKusick, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Ilion. Representatives from the First Baptist Church of Ilion and other area churches were also in attendance.
As people entered the church candles were given out as a sign of hope in the wake of the tragedies that struck Herkimer and Mohawk last week.
On Wednesday, Kurt Myers, 64, of Mohawk, shot four people in Mohawk and two more in Herkimer. Four men died, and the survivors are still in the hospital.
Bassett said the simple service with the theme of resurrection and healing was designed to bring the community together at a time when healing is needed.
“When a tragedy happens people need something more then good words. They need something spiritual to hold on to, to find a sense of hope,” he said. “It’s a human thing to want to find logic and ask the question why, but the question everyone needs to ask is not why, but what now? If this tragedy has done anything it has showed us how precious life is and how as people we need to go out of our way to show love and kindness. Tragedy and death are always around the corner, but love and life can be celebrated constantly.”
Terry Wheeler, a 54-year member of St. Augustine’s Vestry, said the past week has been hard and people really need to get together. “I feel good tonight and I think the ceremony will help make other feel better, but it’s going to take time to heal,” he said.
Jean Smith, of Ilion, attended the service along with Nancy Green and Margaret McLaughlin, of Ilion. Although the women are not members of the church they thought it would be healing to attend the service.
“The minute I heard about the service I couldn’t wait to come,” Smith said. “I know the two survivors. John Seymour and Dan Haslauer are neighbors and John is doing well after his surgery, but Dan is in critical condition and still undergoing surgeries.”
“Nothing like this has ever happened before, and you don’t think it will, but it did happen,” said Green.
“What happened will always be on my mind,” said Smith.
“It’s all just very surreal right now,” said McLaughlin.
During the sermon Bassett said Seymour is a member of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. Bassett said he had visited with Seymour and announced he was doing well and hopes to leave the hospital by the end of the week.
Page 2 of 2 - Basset also shared with the congregation that during his hospital visit Seymour told Basset he is a Christian and he will forgive the man who did this, but it is going to take some time.