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Interfaith vigil at Macedonia Baptist Church begins healing process in Buffalo

"One of the strongest feelings is what am I doing every day to address some of the issues"
Macedonia Baptist Church of Buffalo
NYS lawmakers at Macedonia Baptist.jpg
Posted at 1:57 AM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 11:37:39-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It was a somber and emotional, as so many gathered to grieve.

The terrible atrocity called the Buffalo community together, under one roof at a church, at Macedonia Baptist Church of Buffalo.

More than one hundred people attended the vigil, located less than a mile where the shooting deaths of ten people happened at this tops supermarket.

Macedonia Baptist Church of Buffalo senior pastor, Rev. Julian Cook said, "We're going to deal with the elephant in the room as a community, and we're going to do that using the thing that is closest to most of our communities which is our faith traditions."

Leaders like Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, Senator Tim Kennedy, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown where in attendance for the 4 o'clock service, Sunday afternoon.

Reverand Julian Cook said, "Each faith was able to present itself in a way that spoke to that tradition, that respected that tradition, but that also robustly respected the traditions of others."

Senior Pastor, Rev. Cook's to the family members of those who lost loved ones is that the church will do more than pray.

Reverand Julian Cook said, "We're going to support you financially. I've had several people offer gifts and we will get those to those families. We are also going to support you spiritually and to be present. Practice the ministry of presence and serving in whatever ways we need to. We also need to make some policy changes. So, we're going to do that. We're going to show up at the polls, so that we make sure that this is sustainable and find ways to register new voters."

Many witnessed the moving vigil with different faiths under one roof, for the very first time.

"It's still processing. It was first, shock. Then, sadness. Then, anger. Then, woke up today, just depressed,"Buffalo resident, Ben Dwyer said.

Buffalo resident, Ben Dwyer, said it is hard to believe gun violence of this magnitude has happened so close, but said it was just a matter of time.

"One of the strongest feelings is what am I doing every day to address some of the issues that are still festering after so many years. I wanted to be here today to help be part of the community," Dwyer said.

Sharon Belton-Cottman, who is the Ferry District Board member for Buffalo Public Schools (BPS), lives near the Tops Supermarket Jefferson location.

Ferry District Board member, Sharon Belton-Cottman said, "I could not believe it so I had to go to the scene. The reason that I felt like I had to go to the scene is to have an active memory of what had happened at that place, in my opinion, in order to move to the next step."

She said it is unreal, disappointing and feels second-hand heartache for the ten who died, and their families and wants justice to be served.

"I feel somewhat sorry for the individual, but I was more concerned about his parents and how they felt because they are victims in this as well. Ultimately, there is no excuse for violence and he cannot get a pass. Justice has to be served," Belton-Cottman said.

Additionally, BPS interim Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams stated classes will be in session Monday but will not be operating normally. Students will have mental health counselors available, along with principals and other resources to help students heal. She sent a letter out to parents Sunday.

RELATED STORY: Remembering the victims: 10 lives lost in the Buffalo mass shooting

Making the 300+ mile trek from Albany, Rev. Peter Cook said this kind of inclusive spirit is so critical, especially one day after the City of Good Neighbors experienced a massive tragedy, like this.

"Our hearts are broken and that we want God and all of us to extend every kindness to the family and the community, which is suffering right now," New York State Council of Churches executive director, Rev. Peter Cook said.

He said we all need to speak out against gun violence and hate groups.

"We have to take white supremacy real seriously and be able to challenge it and speak out against it. Also, challenge its many manifestations in terms of unequal economic policies which reflect our communities," Rev. Peter Cook said.

One thing that stuck with me from my interview with Sharon Belton-Cottman was her saying that we need to “monitor our tongue”, acknowledging the impact our wards can bring because words can harm and they kill.

Moving forward, for anyone in need of mental and emotional services, Macedonia Baptist Church will continue to provide services.