On a door at the Newtown Congregational Church is a sign with a simple message: “We are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love.”
“Choosing love is not something that is an afterthought, it really is a conscious choice that we try to make every day,” said Rev. Matt Crebbin, the church’s senior minister.
Monday marks three years since the mass shooting that killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“When I hear of other communities that have been affected by gun violence, there is this connection with compassion,” Crebbin said, “but there’s also this great sorrow that’s still there.”
Crebbin said his community must find a way to recognize the tragic events of three years ago without reliving the trauma.
“We may be in the same chapter of a book, but we’re on different pages so part of the way we can care for one another is be aware that different people will be at different places, especially around this anniversary,” Crebbin said.
“It is very hard, it is very difficult to overcome,” Rabbi Shaul Praver said, “but we will overcome”
Praver was the rabbi at Newtown’s Congregation Adath Israel at the time of the shooting. He is writing a book called Sacred Testimony on the narrative of what happened, why and the search for solutions.
“Teaching the golden rule in school, being compassionate to one another, educating the entire child, reaching out to the loner as the most powerful thing we can do to keep our children safe in school,” he said.
This Monday will be the first anniversary on which Newtown’s students will be in school.
“It seemed to be most appropriate and since we’ve had a couple of years that we have that day where children come together and learn and celebrate the gift of learning,” Crebbin said.
Memorials for the 26 lives lost will be held at different services over the weekend. There’s an interfaith Gathering for Prayer and Comfort Monday night at Newtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church.