COLUMBIA — As the strong breeze ruffled hair and teased orange ribbons pinned to T-shirts, a small choir accompanied by guitar sang “Amazing Grace.” Members of the crowd quietly murmured the lyrics, and some kept their heads bowed in prayer.
Together for a vigil Wednesday evening to honor the 32 students killed a year ago at Virginia Tech, MU students read messages of forgiveness, and the words “we ask for peace on our campuses and all the campuses across our nation, Amen,” drifted over the group of around 100 students.
“Peace is an important issue at all times, but it is more prevalent in these times,” said Geoff Brooke, interfaith chair of the Catholic Student Association. “It’s a very important issue to address on college campuses.”
The vigil, held on Carnahan Quad on the MU campus, was hosted by the Catholic Students Association, Wesley United Methodist Campus Ministry and Christian Campus House. With five students also killed at Northern Illinois University on Feb. 14, peace on college campuses has become an important issue for many.
The prayer service promoted peace and united groups from many denominations under the umbrella of prayer.
“It’s really important because we all share the same faith regardless of the details,” said Jenna Bolzenius, a member of the St. Thomas More Newman Center.
As the different denominations prayed together for peace and in remembrance of those lost in campus shootings, passages, including “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” from the Book of Matthew, were read aloud.
“We as Christians come together as a church in times of tragedy,” said Zephan Hazell, a member of Christian Campus House.
Fat white candles in yellow plastic cups were lit and handed out to students as Brooke read the names of victims. Adding to the solemnity of the event, a bell tolling the hour almost punctuated the calling out of each name.
As the sun began to set, members of the crowd bowed their heads against the wind and prayed in silence.
“God, please, we invite peace into the heart of our campus and other campuses,” said Jim Stites, a member of Wesley United Methodist Campus Ministry, to the crowd as the vigil came to a close. “We pray in your name.”