Dozens attend church vigil

CENTRAL JP—Dozens of people attended a candlelight vigil on the lawn of First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain last night, the first such local vigil in the wake of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing.

“It’s a way of helping people know they’re not alone in a time of stress and crisis,” First Baptist Pastor Ashlee Wiest-Laird told the Gazette shortly after the vigil on the church lawn at Centre and Myrtle streets.

The vigil was organized by an interfaith clergy group of the leaders of First Baptist, First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, Hope Central Church, Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue and St. John’s Episcopal Church. Attendees sang, talked and had a community dinner prior to the vigil.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate Felix Arroyo, a JP resident, was among those attending in an unannounced appearance. Speaking to the Gazette, he praised the vigil as a way for people to come together. Echoing an email he sent to supporters earlier this week, he said he took a walk alone on Boston Common the day after the bombing and realized that Boston can learn to cope with the horror by the example of the marathon itself.

“I thought about what a marathon runner needs to run 26-point-2 miles,” Arroyo said. “A dream. Real perseverance. The support of loved ones, but also the support of perfect strangers [along the course]. That’s the exact recipe  for what we will need as Boston [to move forward]. The marathon is telling us these things are possible.”

Wiest-Laird said the vigil is just one of many ways people will use to process their emotions and individual impacts. One of her son’s friends attends the same school as an 8-year-old Dorchester boy killed in the bombings, she said, describing the challenges of those children will respond.

“The answer is love…not a response of fear or violence,” Wiest-Laird said, as she and another reverend talked with the Gazette about the various emotions and implications of the attack long after the vigil.

Another vigil, planned by residents Ken Sazama and Sam Thompson, is slated for tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Jamaica Pond Park and includes a walk around the pond.

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