SEBRING, Fla. — The Emmanuel United Church of Christ is offering a "safe space" for people to gather to mourn the loss of the five victims after the tragic Sebring bank shooting.
The informal gathering will take place at 7 p.m. at the church's sanctuary at 3115 Hope Street in Sebring. It is open to anyone, says Pastor George Miller.
"We will offer words of hope, scripture, and sing as we offer a safe place for the community to gather," Miller said.
The ceremony will begin with soft music.
Buddhist monk Rev. David Astor of the Order of Engaged Buddhists will "offer some words of hope and comfort," followed by Rev. Ken Hull of the church, who will sing an a capella piece to honor the victims.
The speakers and singers will be accompanied by an organist from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
A moderator will come forward to light candles in honor of the people who have lost their lives, including the two victims who have been named and the three victims whose families have decided not to name at this time.
The church will offer groups and resources for the community to use to properly mourn the loss, including the Executive Director of Drug-Free Highlands County and a member of the Red Cross.
The groups will provide support for coping with grief, mental health awareness, trauma and provide grief counseling.
The church also offered its sanctuary to the public following the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting back in June 2016.
"We just want the community to be present and know that this is informal, it's for people to gather, have a place of silence, cry, or receive help, we don't know what to expect, having that space to gather has meant a lot [in the past] for people," Miller added.
Miller resoundingly wanted the public to know anyone is welcome and that having a safe space for the community to gather has given people comfort in the past.
"They are all members of my congregation, as we are more of the denomination that shares ideas and we are big into acts of social justice," Miller said.
Another vigil for the victims will be held Sunday night at 6 p.m. at the Highlands News-Sun Center - Fair Grounds at 781 Magnolia Ave.
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