Friday, October 21, 2005

A Seed of Hope

A candlelight vigil was held at Hillyard Baptist Church in honor of all those who died as victims of domestic violence. Three local organizations collaborated to sponsor the event: ARMS (Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services), the Spokane Interfaith Council, and Summit Quest. Ophelia Araujo-Islas at ARMS created the event to break the cycle of violence in our community. Barry Moses facilitated the event as master of ceremonies.

Pastor John Dotson of Hillyard Baptist Church set a somber tone for the vigil when he recited statistics related to domestic violence in the Spokane area. He read the names of dozens of local people killed by intimate partners. Hundreds of others were not named, honored only by silence. Pastor Dotson said, “God’s plan for marriage is a place of genuine intimacy and trust. Domestic violence breaks the heart of our Creator and Savior, but there is hope for the abused and for those who abuse.”

The program featured music by Glenda Merchant and Rhonda Moses, poetry by Gaye Hight, a skit, and many testimonies from women who experienced violence in their own lives.

The highlight of the evening was a special candle-lighting ceremony. Participants were invited to light a candle and speak the first name of a loved one who suffered violence at the hands of another. Angela Merchant played Amazing Grace on the harp during the vigil. Participants were visibly moved, and some wept openly. A middle-aged woman brought her elderly mother to the vigil, and when she lit her candle, she turned and whispered her mother’s name into the sacred space. The two women embraced and shared an emotional moment as mother and daughter.

(Those women were my mother and my grandmother).

The evening ended with a prayer by Lisa Miller and a song by Barry Moses. Balloons were released into the night air as a symbol of moving forward in life.

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