HESSTON, Kansas – Eighteen candles were lit during a community church service in Hesston Sunday night to honor those who were killed and wounded during Thursday’s mass shootings at Excel Industries in Hesston and in Newton. One of the candles, the last one lit, was for Cedrick Ford, the alleged shooter.
About 2,000 people attended the service at Hesston High School.
The service began with Pastor John Murray of the Hesston Mennonite Church remembering those who were shot on February 25th. He also remembered those who helped save lives, and Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder who fired the shots that brought down Ford and ended the massacre.
Of the darkness brought to the community by the shootings in Hesston and Newton, Dr. Gary Blaine said, “Sorrow was the first emotion that wrenches our gut it clutches our throats in the face of the mass shooting.”
He said, however, the lighting of candles was meant to bring light into the darkness and help the community recover.
The community service followed an afternoon town hall meeting where city leaders encouraged citizens to adopt the motto, #HesstonStrong.
Candle-lighting ceremony remembering those who died and were wounded held during the community church service.
Wendy Miller spoke to the gathering about Jesus being there to help those who are filled with sorrow.
Keith Schadel meditated on the present days of sorrow, but that there will be days of hope ahead.
Kurt Horst also spoke of hope, and said the road ahead will be rocky as emotional scars brought about by the shootings will need to heal and reheal.