School shooting sharpens talk of faith


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The magnitude of the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is simply too hard for many to understand. That is why many across the nation, from Newtown to Jacksonville, are turning to a higher power for answers.

Robbie Parker's 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was one of the children killed in Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He expressed grief and resolve in his family's time of despair.

"My daughter, Emilie, would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims because that's the kind of person that she is, not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done but because those are the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father," Parker said.

On the night of the shooting, Parker spoke of forgiveness to members of his church in Newtown saying, "Free agency is given to all of us to act and choose to do whatever we want and God can't take that away from us and I know that's something that he was given and that is what he chose to do with it ,and I know God can't take that away. I'm not mad, because I have my agency to make sure that I use this event to do what I can."

That message resonates with those here in the Duval County.

Connection Church, a start up congregation based in Arlington, gathered Sunday to reflect on the power of prayer.

"I trust and pray and we'll never understand this, so I think it is all about faith," said Joe Newton, a member of the Connection Church. "You don't have anything but faith when you go through something like that."

Many churches have made their staff available to talk and to pray with their members and with the public.