DANBURY, Conn. -- Several hundred people filled the pews of the First Congregational Church on Deer Hill Avenue in Danbury on Tuesday evening at an interfaith vigil to honor the victims of the Orlando LGBT nightclub shooting on June 12, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The Rev. Pat Kriss, who gave the welcome and invocation at her church, told those in attendance that the service was not about hatred but instead "it's about the one thing that can conquer hatred -- love.
"It was the Buddha who taught us that hatred does not cease by hatred but only by love. ... People who have darkness in their heart may think they can burn the Rainbow Flag -- and they can burn the flag -- but they can never, ever burn the rainbow itself. We are that rainbow. We are a love and we will prevail."
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton spoke about the importance of having respect, caring, compassion and love for one another. It's essential "to reach out to each person we can to let them know we care about them, are interested in them and respect and value the contributions they can bring to the community," he said.
Shazeeda Khan, a member of the Islamic Society of Western Connecticut in Danbury, said Muslims believe all life is sacred.
"Thus we share in the horror and pain that all Muslims are feeling over this needless and senseless act. Those who commit murder in the name of Islam do not represent Muslims. Their actions are a betrayal of Israel. They generate hate toward Islam."
The name of each of the 49 victims was read. After each name was read, bells tolled and there was a moment of silence to honor the memory of the person.
"I'm very happy that this event has been put together to support the LGBT community after what happened in Orlando," said Conor Pfeifer of Weston, director of operations of the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk. "It's important we have an outlet for grief and to know the LGBT is being supported by local churches, local elected officials and by the greater community in a trying and difficult time."