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Huntington interfaith service remembers Orlando victims

Linda Wright of Cold Spring Harbor, left, and

Linda Wright of Cold Spring Harbor, left, and Deacon Eileen Rosenzweig of Melville, light candles as the names of each of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting are read aloud during an interfaith prayer service and vigil at The Congregational Church of Huntington in Centerport on Tuesday night, June 14, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Nancy Sordi sat alone in a Centerport church, her thoughts more than 1,100 miles away as she wondered when the violence would end.

Her eyes glassy and her lips trembling, the Greenport woman talked about the mass shooting this past weekend at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as if she herself was a victim.

“I just feel powerless. We just see this happening over and over and over again. This is a starting point to bring us all together, but it doesn’t seem to go further than that,” said Sordi, 58, wiping away tears in an interview at The Congregational Church of Huntington. “These mass shootings have become the norm; it’s almost expected. I’m just so frustrated. . . . We’re not doing as much as we should as a society to protect our people. In the end, love conquers all.”

Sordi was one of more than 130 people who attended a Tuesday night prayer service and vigil at the church for the victims of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting that left 49 dead and 53 wounded. The 45-minute service drew religious leaders and congregants from throughout Huntington.

“We are desperately in need of God’s presence,” Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper, of Temple Beth El of Huntington, told the gathering.

Dot Schmitt, past moderator of the Congregational Church, said, “We know we needed to come together and share in our grief. They were young people wanting to have a good time.”

Schmitt, who said she is a proud member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said she had initially decided she was not going to travel to Tampa, Florida, next week to attend a gay pride event. But she then changed her mind, saying that now was the time to unify.

A somber mood hovered over the service and many of those who attended seemed deeply shaken.

“There are no words to comfort you in your sorrow. God looks down on us sometimes and shakes his head in disbelief in what we do to each other,” Dominick Miciotta, 47, of Huntington said before the service began. “We are grieving along with the rest of the world.”

Candles were lit and each victim’s name was read during the ceremony. The choir sang “Hear Us Now.”

“Our hearts are with them. We have some issues to deal with in this country. There are no easy answers,” said Michael Widawski, 64, of Huntington. “We’ve seen too many tragedies like these over the last few years.”

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