MANCHESTER, NH – Kristen Cottle wanted to find a way to have the last word in the tragic story of Denise Robert, or at least punctuate the senseless violence with a moment of solidarity.
So she contacted the pastor of the Brookside Congregational Church to ask a small favor.
“She wanted to know if she could use our parking lot as a gathering and returning place for a candlelight walk, from here to the place on Ray Street where Denise Robert was killed,” said the Reverend Dr. Dawn Berry, known more commonly to her flock as Pastor Dawn.
The candlelight walk will begin at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 3 in the church parking lot, 2013 Elm St. Those wishing to participate should gather by 7 p.m. Candles will be provided by the church, as well as bottles of water and bathrooms, for those who need them.
“I have no idea how many people will come, but we’ll have enough candles for about 150 people,” Berry said.
It was a perfect solution, says Berry, who was planning to ask the deacons what they might be able to do for the community in the aftermath of the shooting.
As part of the information released following the initial investigation, police revealed that Robert a Manchester native who moved to Bedford, had been parking her car in the church lot every Sunday for several years as she strolled the quiet and scenic neighborhood.
Berry’s church was thrust into the epicenter of the police investigation when Robert’s car was found in the parking lot. Berry said the church sexton had taken note of Robert parking there on Sundays several years ago, and introduced himself.
“That’s how some of our congregants knew her, and others knew her from the Executive Health club,” Berry said.
Cottle, who lives nearby, says the idea seemed like a positive way to create a sense of solidarity, after a crime that shakes a community like this to its foundation. Everything came together seamlessly once she emailed Berry.
“We’ll walk to Ray Street and stop for a moment of silence where Denise Robert’s life was tragically taken, and then return to Brookside,” said Cottle, who asked Berry if she’d offer up a prayer on Ray Street.
“I told her I’d surely offer an interfaith prayer for the occasion. Kristen said she really wants the community to come together, and not let this one act be the last word. She wants to honor Denise’s life and, as she so beautifully stated to me, bring a little light into the darkness,” Berry said. ”
“That’s part of what I believe churches should be about, to reach out and have a word of hope in this time of fear and anxiety; we can offer a word of faith, not in a particular doctrine so much as in the overall goodness of the world,” Berry said. “These things certainly shake us, make us wonder what’s happening out there. But there are so many good things that don’t get reported. I believe God created a beautiful, wonderful world, and we need to remember that, especially at a time like this. Prayer helps.”
To join the event via Facebook, click here.
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