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Parker Chronicle 7

May 17, 2019

‘We need to grieve’ BY NICK PUCKETT NPUCKETT@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

Mountainview Christian Church in Highlands Ranch held a prayer service and candlelight vigil May 8 memorializing the victims of the STEM School shooting the day before. Senior pastor Ken Hensley led the service, which featured song and prayer from leaders of the church. At the end of the service, the congregation sang “Amazing Grace” while holding candles to remember the victims, students and families of the school — which is just down the road from the church — especially Kendrick Castillo, who died to protect others during the shooting. Hensley described his experience at the Northridge Recreation Center, where parents were taken to reunite with their children. He talked about the different emotions he saw — from worry and confusion to relief and love. He spoke about how he saw families coming together, evident by one family of four, with one high school-aged and one middle schoolaged student, holding hands walking down Broadway. “We need to grieve,” he said. “We need to express our doubt, we need to express our anger, but in the end, if you are a person of faith, and you

A girl holds a candle during the prayer service at Mountainview Church in Highlands Ranch May 8, memorializing the victims of the STEM School shooting the day before.

The Mountainview Church in Highlands Ranch held a prayer service and candlelight vigil May 8 to memorialize and grieve the victims of the STEM School shooting May 7, which occurred just down the road. PHOTOS BY NICK PUCKETT are a person of hope, a person that believes, I would encourage you to be

a person who holds onto the God who holds onto you.”

A man leads the congregation in song during a prayer service at the Mountainview Church in Highlands Ranch.

Community comes together after tragedy Vigils and services are held in days after shooting at STEM BY ALEX DEWIND ADEWIND@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

Doug Cunningham, wearing a neon yellow vest and holding a large umbrella, stood at the entrance of Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. Under a gray sky, as heavy rain poured down, he walked adults, teens and children from their cars to the building. The church volunteer didn’t know Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old who was killed in the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, or any of the other eight other students who were injured. “I just got a heart for kids,” Cunningham said. Cherry Hills was one of several churches and schools across the community that held vigils and services the evening of May 8 to provide a space for people to grieve, to honor those injured and affected by the tragedy. Nearby, St. Andrew United Methodist Church hosted a service for STEM families. In the lobby, students embraced one another. In the sanctuary hundreds of people prayed, shared feelings of grief and lit candles. Security personnel from Douglas County School District, along with Superin-

A mother-son pair pray at a service hosted by Cherry Hills Community Church on May 8. The service was one of several churches and schools to offer support for the community following a deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. tendent Thomas Tucker, watched the crowd from the outskirts. “We know that we are strongest as a community,” the Rev. Annie Arnoldy said. Cherry Hills Community Church provided a buffet dinner for families, followed by a service with song and prayer. Childcare was available for children in third grade and under. Hundreds of community members filled the sanctuary. Many people stood with their hands in the air, belting words of hope and love. Among the guests were the three Douglas County commissioners. Shane Farmer, senior pastor, was candid with the audience. He honored Kendrick, who witnesses say lunged at

Doug Cunningham, a volunteer, walks guests from their cars to the entrance of Cherry Hills Community Church for a service on May 8, a day after the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. PHOTOS BY ALEX DEWIND the shooter to save other students. “We are so sick of being the epicenter of the violence on our kids. We are so sick of it,” Farmer said. “This is a day when we need help, we need hope, we need healing.” After hearing news of the shooting, Serene Erickson, a student at Heritage High School in Littleton, texted her grandma and asked if she could join her at church. The 15-year-old said she felt stressed, scared. “Tonight really helped,” Erickson said after the Cherry Hills service. “It was refreshing to hear positive words and to see everyone come together.”

A group of people join together in prayer at a service hosted by Cherry Hills Community Church.

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