The Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, will hold a prayer service to mark the first anniversary of the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, which killed 49 and wounded 53. Bishop Gregory Brewer will speak at the service, to be held at 5 p.m. June 11.
The service will include Scripture readings, memorial candles, and music. The chancel choir from First United Methodist Church will sing together with the cathedral choir. The Orlando Gay Chorus and the Orlando Fire Department Bagpipe Band will also perform.
The Very Rev. Reggie Kidd, dean of the cathedral, said Orlando previously felt isolated from the kinds of terrorist attacks and mass shootings that had affected other parts of the world — until the massacre at Pulse. “Twenty blocks from our church, this terrible violence breaks out,” he told TLC. “And our city as a whole has felt it very deeply.”
Kidd said the cathedral hosted one of the first Pulse funerals last year and then a vigil. “We just saw a lot of people in real grief,” as Episcopalians, LGBT people, and Hispanic residents gathered together at the church. “We found ourselves a part of the healing that our community was striving for. … We were stunned and awed at the beauty and the spirit of Orlando as people came together to love each other and to look to God for grace and mercy.”
An offering will be collected at the June 11 service for Proyecto Somos Orlando (English: We Are Orlando Project), which provides financial support to the Pulse victims’ families. Because last year’s shooting happened during the LGBT-oriented club’s Latin night, many victims were Hispanic.
Another vigil service will be held at First United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. June 10, also with combined choirs. The cathedral will also be open all day on June 12 for quiet prayer and reflection. Counselors will be available in the church. At noon, the tower bell will toll 49 times, in memory of the victims.
Kidd said that emotions are still quite raw; violence continues throughout the world, including a June 5 workplace shooting in Orlando. He hopes the cathedral will offer the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ as hope for all.
“[I pray] for hearts to be calmed and for there to be resolve in the face of evil — and for the victory over sin and death that we know that Jesus has won by virtue of his cross and resurrection,” Kidd said. “For it to prevail in the world around us and for people to have the hope of a God of mercy, kindness, and grace.
“And for healing.”