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News from the Hill April 16, 2013 | back to index

Schools on The Hill pray after marathon attack

imageAndover Newton students held an informal prayer vigil Monday night in Wilson Chapel, and the school joined with Hebrew College on Tuesday for a short service of prayer and readings from Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist perspectives, including a silent procession circling and re-circling the Peace Pole on the Andover Newton quad and an offering of flowers to represent the named and unnamed people hurt or killed in Monday’s explosions.

At least two students and one instructor ran in the 26.2-mile race, with others cheering participants on from along the route or near its endpoint a block away from Boston’s historic Old South Church, a United Church of Christ congregation with long ties to the school. Senior Minister and CEO the Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor is a former member of Andover Newton’s board of trustees.

On Tuesday, Old South was closed, located inside the area still off limits to visitors, but the congregation flew its three marathon banners “in memory of those whose lives were taken, with prayers for those who are harmed or grieving, in thanksgiving for all first responders,” according to a statement on its website. Nearby Arlington Street Church (Unitarian Universalist) planned to hold a public prayer vigils Tuesday night, and services are planned throughout the city for Wednesday night (April 17).

Master of Divinity student Samantha Larason ran in the race Monday with a cousin from out of state. She recalled that on Monday, “I was maybe 15-20 yards away from the bombs, and I will always remember the first responders. The first thing I saw after the smoke was people running TO the scene. Police officers, volunteers in their yellow jackets, and even some everyday bystanders raced to those who were harmed, no thought for themselves. Amidst terror and chaos, I will remember the care I saw and the true love of humanity that shines in the darkest of moments.”

Also participating in the race was M.Div. student Tina Walker-Morin, who said, “The tragedy at the 117th Boston Marathon showed God’s outpouring love. Due to injury, my wife and I were still on the course when the bombs went off. The police began flying back downtown, and (we) heard the rumblings that two bombs and exploded.”

Tina experienced firsthand the kindness of strangers. “Two young college girls graciously allowed us to use their cell phones to try and reach our family members who were near the finish line,” she said. “A couple of hours, later when we were finally reconnected with our family and ways to communicate, the outpouring love was amazing. God’s love through friends, family, and strangers appeared in all the actions, prayers, thoughts, emails, Facebook posts, texts, and phone calls. I have never felt more loved. For God is love (1 John 4:8).”

Master of Divinity student Amber Brown was there as a spectator, but she had left the finish line area by the time of the explosions. Always one to cheer others, she shared her experience in a haiku:

“I was not present
Because we got cheeseburgers
Amazing grace, yes.”

Amber stated on Facebook that she planned to listen to different versions of the hymn “Amazing Grace” all day Tuesday.

Finally, Admission Counselor Kate Common offered her thoughts on what the Boston Marathon means to the community and how she hopes the the community and world can move forward:

“Each year I rush down to the marathon route, and in those first moments when I catch a glimpse of the river of runners and hear the shouts of thousands of spectators, I am always moved to tears. In that moment I feel the best of humanity and the way things ought to be all the time—humans coming together in mutual joy and support.

“This is why this is so painful. To see something so horrendous done to purposefully undermine this moment of true goodness. I am in shock.

“But this act will not undermine the truth that exists: Light will overcome darkness. Love is more powerful than any act of violence. We must come together in peace and kindness and not give in to fear and the violence that fear incites. No amount of war can fix this, but maybe more marathons can.”