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Sayville church says display is a message about gun violence

The Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ has

The Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ has erected a display of crosses on its lawn, seen on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, to honor the Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims.  Credit: Newsday / Rachelle Blidner

A Sayville church congregation has erected 17 white crosses on its lawn to honor the slain victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and is seeking to help other groups create their own memorials.

Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ officials said they are aiming to loan out about 600 handcrafted white crosses, 17 at a time, to other organizations.

Pastor Ray Bagnuolo said he wants the display, which was created on Sunday, to make passersby think about how to prevent gun violence following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“We have to make sure that nothing like that happens to anyone ever again,” he said Tuesday.

The church has had hundreds of crosses in storage following a 2015 lawn display that used about 650 of them to represent each city that had a shooting massacre since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Connie Kauffman, a church deacon, said the congregation at the time hung mini-backpacks to represent the Newtown, Connecticut, victims and to say the issue of mass shootings is not over.

“Nothing has happened. It’s still going on,” she said.

Bagnuolo said he plans to connect members of the church’s youth group with Stoneman Douglas students, who have been vocal about the need for gun reform, to find “a way to make a difference.”

Groups can reach out to Bagnuolo about the crosses by calling or texting him at 631-827-8611.

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