JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night for Cherish Perrywinkle, an 8-year-old girl whose body was found near a Northside church after police say she taken from Walmart Friday night by a 56-year-old convicted sex offender.

Hundreds attended the prayer service and candlelight vigil held at that church: Highlands Baptist.

There were words of love and encouragement from Pastor Art Taylor who led a prayer ceremony in remembrance of Cherish.

"I do not know why some things happen," said Pastor Taylor. "I shall never know why some things happen, but there is a day coming when I shall."

Cherish's mother was surrounded by family and friends, as well as those who didn't even know Cherish, but were still touched by the tragedy.

Everyone who knew Cherish talked about how grateful and appreciative she was.

"She got along with everybody. She was one of the sweetest kids. I wish all the kids in there would be the way she was," said Abby Jones, Cherish's children's pastor at Paxon Revival Center Church.  "I'm proud that so many people care about her, even though some don't know her and their hearts still go out to her."

Those closest to Cherish said they're moved by the overwhelming show of support from the community.

"The feeling of love -- just to see the people come out from all nationalities, it's just awesome," said Pastor Marcus Williams of Paxon Revival Center Church. "Just to see the support in the community because that's what its all about. The kingdom of Heaven is love."

Annette Powell was one of those who didn't know Cherish, but says with five grandchildren, this hits close to home.

"When I found out about it, I called my daughter and it's like I just want to call and check on my grandkids," Powell said.

Aharon Pearson sat beside Cherish's mother at the service. He said he helped raise Cherish since she was just 10 months old. Despite the tragic loss, Pearson said he's grateful she was found.

"At least we have some kind of closure. I mean, there's a lot of families out there that their child is missing and they haven't found them," said Pearson.

Many in attendance spoke about the importance of forgiveness. They said Cherish was a little girl of great faith, and forgiveness is what she would have wanted.

"Someone has to take the stand and do what Jesus would do. Take the stand and say, I'm going to forgive you."

As a community continues to grieve, those closest to Cherish said they'll never forget the little girl who loved to draw and was wise beyond her years.

"She was one of the best friends I ever had." said Cherish's friend, Isabella Bowman. "I'm really thank for you, that you're my friend."

"We love her, we miss her, we're going to miss her," said Williams.

Vigil for Cherish

Published On: Jun 23 2013 10:57:03 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 24 2013 06:54:28 AM EDT

It's the first step towards healing for some: an entire community coming together, showing their support through prayer and a vigil for the family of Cherish Perrywinkle.

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