CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Less than 48 hours after the deadly shooting in Virginia Beach, a Chesterfield church is calling for community members to come together.
"We were just pulling up (to a church concert Friday evening) when my husband was looking at his cellphone and he says, 'There is an active shooter in Virginia Beach,'" recalled Reverend Laura Bennett with Unity Bon Air. "We immediately went into prayer."
In the wake of the tragedy, Unity of Bon Air has created the Novena for Peace and Unity: a nine-day vigil prayer created to bring healing after the sudden loss of the 12 victims.
"(This is) a prayer that says, 'Hey, we are claiming peace for this earth. We are claiming it and we decree that it is now,'" Reverend Zita Correll said.
With one hand holding another—community members stood in solidarity in an act of love Sunday that congregants Unity of Bon Air hopes transcends throughout the community and throughout the world.
"To actually create something powerful and to give people the motivation," Bennett said. "And the impetus to act on that love, not just feel it in their hearts, but to act on it -- to contact people in need to give to people in need."
Love is an action word -- and that is what many need more than ever in Virginia Beach.
"We are with you in this. We’re with you in love. We’re with you in peace," Correll said. "We’re wishing you the best. We need to be one. We need to show love. We need to show compassion because there’s so much going on in the world today."
The Novena for Peace and Unity will continue for the next nine days with the following daily practices:
- Sunday, June 2: Hug someone who is close to you and tell them how much you love them.
- Monday, June 3: Send a loving communication to someone in Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, and/or a place that is special to you.
- Tuesday, June 4: Contribute to a favorite charity that brings peace and unity to your community and/or world.
- Wednesday, June 5: Pause for a moment of Silence, holding in your heart all of those who are affected by violence and seeing them filled with the light of healing love and empowering peace.
- Thursday, June 6: Say a prayer for the world’s children.
- Friday, June 7: Say a prayer for the world’s leaders.
- Saturday, June 8: Say a prayer for yourself.
- Sunday, June 9: Find one thing to do today that brings peace to your soul – and do it.
- Monday, June 10: Throughout the day, briefly pause to envision our world enwrapped in the light of God’s love.
There will be an evening service on Monday, June 10 to formally conclude the vigil.
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