An interfaith service will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at First Park Congregational Church for the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
According to a press release, the community prayer service “gives our greater Grand Rapids family a chance to grieve the loss of life in Orlando, to find hope in the midst of violence, and to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community in our city and beyond.”
The service is open to the public and will have ASL interpretation and childcare.
On the night of June 11, ISIS sympathizer Omar Mateen used an assault weapon to fatally shoot 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub in the largest mass shooting ever recorded. The shooting has led many across the country are questioning current gun laws and if American citizens should have access to military-grade assault weapons.
Beau Vansolkema is the president of StandOut, the LGBT+ club at Grand Rapids Community College. While he thinks guns are okay to possess for legitimate reasons, he said assault weapons are not meant for the average citizen.
“I think owning a gun is okay. I know lots of responsible, upstanding citizens that have them,” said Vansolkema, 32. “(Assault weapons) should be for military use only. That’s what they were designed for.”
Vansolkema said laws need to be passed for stricter gun control and guns should only be sold at gun shops and not chain stores, or Craigslist.
For the LGBT+ community, Vansolkema has some encouraging words.
“Know that all great causes started with one voice,” Vansolkema said. “A voice from someone who never gave up, listened, looked at the bigger picture, fought with words not violence.”
Tonight’s interfaith service is in partnership with these local entities:
- All Souls Community Church
- Arbor Circle
- Bethlehem Lutheran Church
- Park Church
- First United Methodist Church
- Fountain Street Church – Freeing Minds, Growing Souls, Changing the World
- Genesis UMC
- Grand Rapids Pride Center
- Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus
- Hudsonville Congregational United Church of Christ
- Iglesia Nueva Vida UCC
- Islamic Center and Masjid of Grand Rapids
- Plymouth United Church of Christ, Grand Rapids
- St. John’s United Church of Christ
- St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids
- United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM)
- Westminster Presbyterian Church