A group of First Congregational Church of Camden, United Church of Christ members and friends, and other Midcoast community members, invite area residents to join a vigil against intolerance and in memory of those who lost their lives in Orlando and in other acts of mass violence.  Participants are invited to bring a sign or symbol of your witness to embrace all humanity and stand against intolerance.

The vigil will be held Sunday, June 26, at 7 p.m. in the Camden Amphitheatre at Harbor Park.  Those who wish may gather in the parking lot at First Congregational Church, 55 Elm St., at 6:30 p.m. and walk together to the Amphitheatre.

Organizers of the event said in a press release:

"As we seek to understand the events in Orlando, Florida, — the most deadly shooting in American history many of us in this community have come to realize the importance of coming together in love, with hope and determination to change the course of events in our society.

"In the silence of the aftermath of this tragedy, we commit ourselves to seeking to change the conversation from one that blocks and excludes out of fear and misunderstanding to one that opens and includes compassion and understanding.  America has made changes in the past through the power of the people. We believe it is time to do so again. The components of justice and fairness have never changed."

Fifty three years ago President John Kennedy gave a famous speech known as his “Peace Speech” at American University in which he sought to build hope from commonality and solutions from differences.  He said:

"So, let us not be blind to our differences but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved.  And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.  For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children's future.  And we are all mortal."

Twenty-seven years ago President George H. W. Bush said in his inaugural address:

"America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world."

Organizers hope the vigil will serve as an affirmative statement of hope.

"[And] that through this tragedy we shall move with conscience to strengthen our commitment to the dignity of all human life, to justice, to civility and compromise, political integrity and intellectual honesty, and that we will commit our energies to action.

"We will not continue to accept:

"1.    mass murder as a way of life in America.

"2.    the isolation of an individual or a people within our society by categorizing and diminishing them by their racial, ethnic, religious, economic, or sexual orientation;

"3.    unbending political ideologies which shun compromise and moral commitment as a strength within a democratic society;

"4.    false statements without holding the deliverer accountable to the truth;

"5.    the public debasing of  individuals and ideas through disrespectful and demeaning rhetoric.

"We urge you to join us in our efforts to change the dialogue in America by standing together in honor of those who have lost their lives."

Future community discussions are planned. For more information, call the First Congregational Church office at 236-4821 or email the Rev. Deb Jenks at djenks@camdenucc.org.

This is not a Camden Public Library event.