PHOENIXVILLE >> In response to recent violence, area organizations are coming together to call for peace.
Community leaders from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Diversity in Action, Phoenixville Town Watch and Phoenixville Area School District have organized a Community Peace Vigil set for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 14, at the Church St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 121 Church St., Phoenixville.
The vigil comes after two incidents of gun violence affected the borough in recent months. In late September, 20-year-old Joshua Mitchell was shot in the Children’s Plaza on Bridge Street following an argument and later died of his wounds. On Dec. 27, Jayson Ortiz-Cameron, 15, was shot and killed in the parking lot at the Phoenixville Dunkin Donuts in an incident now being investigated as a drug-related homicide.
The vigil was already in the planning stages well before the most recent violence, according to organizers.
“In fact, we had already been planning this Community Peace Vigil as an occasion for Phoenixville Community members to proactively come together, reflect and plan how to make our community even stronger in the New Year,” said committee member Rev. Koshy Mathews, Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
The first hour of the vigil will be an interfaith service offering scripture and prayers from various faith communities including Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Ba Hai and Native American traditions, along with music from Phoenixville High School’s acapella group, Vocal Fusion, and a candle lighting ceremony.
Immediately following the one-hour service, attendees will be invited to enjoy refreshments, engage in activities designed to invite connection and conversation about themes of peace and explore an information table with literature featuring a wide range of community-building efforts.
Volunteers began planning this Community Peace Vigil as the United States experienced the deadliest shooting in modern history when Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in Las Vegas, Nevada and injured hundreds more on Oct. 1. Paddock shattered windows of his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino and fired on crowds at the music festival below before killing himself.
Creators of the Vigil explain that their intention is to help the Phoenixville community start the New Year on a positive note by affirming the civic spirit and neighborly bonds for which the small borough has been well-known over the years.